Real Estate Law: What is a Joint Tenancy in North Carolina?

There are several different ways to own real estate with another person. Whether you own a home together with a spouse, purchased a property with a friend, or inherited property along with a family member, you could be part of a legal ownership arrangement called a joint tenancy. In a joint tenancy, all owners have full ownership rights over the property. Within this article, our Monroe, NC real estate attorney provides an overview of joint tenancy in North Carolina.

Joint Tenancy: Defined

The Legal Information Institute defines joint tenancy as “a type of shared ownership of property, where each owner has an undivided interest in the property.” In other words, joint tenancy allows multiple individuals to own a property together with equal rights to the entire property, rather than owning specific portions of it. In effect, this means that each owner has an equal right to possess, use, and enjoy the entire property. In addition, a joint tenancy in North Carolina almost always includes the right of survivorship, meaning that if one of the owners passes away, their share of the property automatically transfers to the remaining owner(s).

Key Ownership Limitation: Joint Tenancy With Right of Survivorship is Not Controllable

With a joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, the property passes to the other owners when an owner dies. In effect, this means that the last surviving owner becomes the sole owner of the property. Notably, a joint tenancy is “not controllable.” In other words, as a joint tenant, you cannot control who will inherit your share of the property upon your death. Even if you have a will stating your wishes, your share of the property will automatically transfer to the surviving owners, regardless of your intentions. If you have any specific questions or concerns about how to deal with a joint tenancy as part of your estate, consult with a Monroe, NC estate planning attorney for immediate help.

Resolving Joint Tenancy Disputes in Real Estate in North Carolina

Joint tenancy is a relatively common type of property ownership. It has a lot of potential advantages. Indeed, most married couples who own a home in Union County, North Carolina own their property with a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship. When one spouse passes away, the home automatically passes to the other. It is a significant estate planning benefit—at least when that is a desired outcome. At the same time, disputes over jointly-owned property can arise for a wide range of different reasons. Some of the most common joint tenancy disputes include:

Cost of Property Maintenance and Repairs: Joint tenants have equal ownership and control over the property, which can lead to disagreements over who is responsible for maintenance and repairs.
Property Improvements: Joint tenants may also disagree about making improvements to the property. For example, one co-owner may want to install a new deck, while the other prefers to keep the property in its current state.
Property Use: Joint tenants may have different ideas about how the property should be used. For instance, one co-owner may want to use the property as a vacation home, while the other prefers to rent it out for extra income.
Property Sale: Joint tenants have the right to sell their ownership interest in the property, which can cause disputes if one co-owner wants to sell while the other does not. The parties have a number of different options available to review a dispute over property sales.

Of course, no person wants to get locked in a dispute with a joint owner of residential real estate or commercial real estate. In order to avoid these types of disputes, it is crucial that parties with a joint tenancy have a clear, comprehensive knowledge of their rights and responsibilities. They should also communicate effectively with each other. If a dispute does arise, a proactive approach is key. A top-rated Monroe Real estate lawyer can protect your rights and your interests.

Contact Our Monroe Real Estate Attorneys for Immediate Legal Help

At Plyler, Long & Corigliano, LLP, our Union County real estate lawyers are diligent, experienced advocates for clients. If you have specific concerns about joint tenancy, we can help. Contact us right away for a completely private initial consultation. With a legal office in Monroe, we provide commercial and residential guidance and support in real estate law matters all around the wider area, including in Unionville, Wingate, Pineville, Indian Trail, Locust, and Wadesboro.