Property is often owned by two or more people simultaneously. This is referred to as a concurrent estate. Two of the most common forms of concurrent estates in Texas are joint tenancies and tenancies in common. These concurrent estates are similar, but have key distinctions which can have significant effects when it comes to issues of inheritance. This article will briefly explore these types of concurrent estates. If you have any questions regarding co-ownership of property in Austin, Round Rock, or Pflugerville, contract the real estate and probate attorneys at the Law Office of Farren Sheehan for a consultation. Law Office of Farren Sheehan for a consultation.
The default form of co-ownership in Texas is a tenancy in common. A tenancy in common occurs when two or more parties jointly hold an interest in property. These co-owners hold an undivided interest and right to possess the property. Each party may freely sell, devise, lease, or otherwise transfer their interest in the property. When a party dies their share of the property will pass via their will or, if the party died without a will, according to the intestacy statute. In general, co-ownership of property in Texas is presumed to be a tenancy in common, absent explicit language to the contrary, as discussed below.
The key distinction between a tenancy in common and a joint tenancy is that a joint tenancy contains a right of survivorship. These means that upon the death of one owner their share of the property will pass to the surviving co-owners. A joint tenant’s interest is therefore not freely devisable in a will.
Unlike most states Texas does not automatically recognize joint tenancies as having a right of survivorship. Instead the parties must agree, in writing, to include a right of survivorship.