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Joint tenancy or tenants in common?

March 2, 2018
By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Dear Mr. Feichthaler:

I am purchasing a house with my sister in Cape Coral. We are wondering how to hold title. We each have our own families, and we are just pooling our assets to buy this rental home. Someone said we should hold the property as joint tenants because we are buying the house together.

-Gladys N.

Dear Gladys,

The rental market in Cape Coral continues to be very strong, which is great for investors like you. That is great that you are entering this endeavor with your sister, you both must get along well. There are several ways you can hold property, but I will discuss two here: Joint tenancy (with rights of survivorship) and tenants in common. In the former, which was recommended to you, you will each have an equal interest in the property. The key element to this type of ownership is that, if one of the owners dies, the surviving owners receive their ownership interest by operation of law, thereby avoiding probate. You had mentioned above you each have your own families, so you will want to consider whether you would want your share to pass to your sister. If so, holding the property as joint tenants is an ideal way to hold property.

In the alternative, if you wish to have your other family members (or other beneficiaries) receive the benefit of this property, you would want to hold the property as tenants in common. Your interest would pass to your estate through your will, or through intestate succession if you have no will. Your interest would go through probate, unless you took other steps to see that your interest passes to your heirs through operation of law, like a life estate deed.

Before making this significant investment, you may want to consider other methods of holding title to protect your personal assets, such as forming a limited liability company.

Good luck with the anticipated purchase!

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for 28 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continued his service to the community through his chairmanship of the Harney Point Kiwanis Club KidsFest from 2011-2015, which provides a free day of fun and learning to thousands of Cape Coral families, and funds numerous scholarships. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for 14 years, and they have four children together. Recently, he earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is also a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.



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