The manner in which you own shared property in Minnesota may impact your estate planning goals.  It is important to know how your shared property is owned, and what that means in terms of what will happen with your interest should you die.

Two common ways to own property in Minnesota are: 1) as “joint tenants”; and 2) as “tenants in common.”  One difference in these two types of ownership is what happens to an owner’s interest when they die.

If the joint owners hold the property as “joint tenants,” the interest of the deceased owner will automatically transfer to the surviving owner(s).  Generally speaking, this will happen regardless of what a will says, and a probate should not need to be opened in order to transfer this ownership interest to the surviving joint tenant(s).  Joint tenants have what is called a “right of survivorship.”

If the joint owners hold the property as “tenants in common,” the interest of the deceased owner will pass according to their will, or by intestacy statute if the deceased individual did not have a will.  This may require a probate to be opened.  Tenants in common do not have a “right of survivorship.”

This issue comes up frequently when I represent couples who are buying a home together, but are not married, or in blended family situations.  I recently represented a woman who was buying a house with her long term significant other.  It was her wish that if she were to die, her significant other would inherit her interest in the property.  By setting up a time to meet with an estate planning attorney, she was able to make sure this would happen, and plan for more with a will, power of attorney and health care directive.

The first step in determining what will happen with your shared interest in a property when you, or another owner dies is to determine how the property is held.  Schromen Law, LLC can help to answer your questions, and provide legal advice to make certain that what you want to happen with your property ownership interest when you die, will in fact happen.

The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Schromen Law, LLC and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.

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