Carefully consider the options as a co-owner of California real estate

California Real Estate Death Transfer

People who only take nominal title to California real estate have four options to become a homeowner.

Right of survivorship is found in co-ownership and “community ownership with right of survivorship”. Be aware that the term “commons” does not create the right of survivorship. »

—Mark W. Bidwell

HUNTINGTON BEACH, California, USA, July 28, 2022 / — People who take title in name only to California real estate have four options to become an owner. The options are either as tenants in common, co-owners, as “communal property with right of survivorship” or in name only.

The distinction between these options is what happens to an individual’s share of the real estate when that person dies. The right of survivorship is essential. This right is found in co-ownership and “community of property with right of survivorship”. Be aware that the term “community property” does not create the right of survivorship.

On the death of a joint owner, the right of survivorship transfers the interest of the deceased joint owner to the surviving owner(s). This transfer is automatic in the sense that it takes place without any action on the part of the survivor. But the survivor must notify the county where the property is located that a joint owner has died.

Notifying the county is done through a death affidavit. A death certificate is attached to the affidavit and both are registered with the county. Until the affidavit is registered, the surviving owner cannot sell or use the property as collateral to borrow.

The third option to become a landlord is as tenants in common. On the death of a co-owner, his interests are not transferred to the survivor, but to the deceased heirs. The heirs are identified in the will. If there is no will, the heirs are identified by California law known as “Intestate Estate”.

Intestate succession is a default government plan for those who do not plan. In this default plan, the first to inherit is the spouse. If there is no spouse, the default is the children. If there are no children, the parents inherit and so on. The major problem with a will or an intestate estate is that the heir or new owner must file a petition for probate in probate court. Probate is expensive and time consuming.

The fourth option is also a default. To have right of survivorship, owners must be identified in the deed as either joint owners or community owners with right of survivorship. All other co-ownerships are by default tenant in common. If only names are listed as owners, the default is tenants in common. Phrases such as “husband and wife” or simply the words “community ownership” also default to tenants in common.

Rights of survivorship must be clearly stated on the deed. In the absence of the magic words “joint owners” or the full phrase “community ownership with right of survivorship”, the default is as tenants in common. The distinction determines who inherits and whether probate court assistance is needed.

This article provided by Mark W. Bidwell, a California attorney. The address is 4952 Warner Avenue, Suite 235, Huntington Beach, CA 92649. The phone is 714-846-2888. The email is [email protected]

Marc Bidwell
Mark W. Bidwell, a law firm
+1 714-846-2888
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