Alexandria, VA Estate Planning Blog

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Invoking the Survivorship Option (Joint Tenants w/ right of Survivorship & Tenants by the Entirety)

It is very important that each person review how their assets are titled to ensure they are titled correctly. Assets can be owned jointly (no survivorship), jointly with right of survivorship, as tenants by the entirety (creditor protection & survivorship), or as tenants in common (no survivorship).

The method of titling the assets will dictate how that asset passes upon your death. If you own property as tenants in common or joint tenants, than the property will pass to your heirs, by devise, or to your personal representative.  If you own property jointly with right of survivorship or as tenants by the entireties, than your property will pass to the survivor. Note that tenancy by the entirety (or as tenants by the entireties) is a favored method of ownership reserved for married persons. Tenancy by the entirety provides significant creditor protection to the surviving spouse.  


Virginia abolished the survivorship presumption that existed for any person who owned real or personal property jointly with another (whether married or not). Va. Code 55-20. Thus, unless the proper survivorship language is invoked, and despite the joint tenant language, the property will be owned as tenants in common (no survivorship).


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