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How does joint real estate play in to an estate plan?

Many New Jersey residents own real estate together with other people. It is therefore important for people to understand how real estate gets passed down when an owner of the property dies.

For example, property owners may choose to own property as tenants in common. Under these circumstances each person owns a certain percentage of the property, even if the property is not literally divided in to parts. Should the person dies, his or her share of the equity in the property will pass down under the terms of his or her will or other estate planning documents.

On the other hand, two, or more, people can also decide to hold property jointly and with the right of survivorship. Until the tenancy is legally broken, this type of arrangement means that if one of the people dies, the other person receives the property outright. There is no need for a will or the probate process to accomplish this.

Incidentally, married couples can use a similar process to the right of survivorship in order to accomplish the same result. In some cases, one can do a great deal of effective estate planning just by using deeds to convey property with the right of survivorship. Doing so is particularly helpful when a family holds most of its wealth in the form or real estate, as they can effectively use joint real estate to avoid or minimize the probate process.

Even when doing so is not possible, however, it is still important for a New Jersey resident to understand what type of tenancy he or she owns. After all, how he or she chooses to plan out his estate can change depending on how his or her real estate is titled.

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