A right of survivorship means that property owned by multiple people will automatically pass to other owners when one owner dies. Not only does this ensure the immediate transfer of property, but it also avoids the lengthy and costly probate process.
In New York, there are three ways to hold property with a co-owner: tenancy by the entirety, joint tenancy, and tenants in common. However, only two of these can have a right of survivorship. The others must go through probate to pass the property to another owner.
How to Hold Property With a Right of Survivorship in New York
One of the most common ways property passes to someone else without probate is from a deceased spouse to a surviving spouse. This is called tenancy by the entirety and prevents the creditors of the deceased spouse from trying to collect on debts using shared marital property.
Tenancy by the entirety is only available to married couples in New York. Otherwise, the property can pass to other owners without probate as long as the owners establish joint tenancy.
New has four requirements for joint tenancy with rights of survivorship:
- All owners must have own an equal percentage of the property. The property will be distributed equally among the remaining owners when one owner dies, so no one person can own a bigger share than another.
- All owners must have part ownership in the entire property, without limiting any owner’s access to any part of the property.
- All owners must be able to show their interest in the property as joint tenants using the same legal instrument (such as a deed).
- All owners must have established joint tenancy at the same time. Additional tenants cannot be added later.
If the requirements for a joint tenancy are not met, the property will be treated as if it’s owned by tenants in common. This form of ownership treats each owner as the tenant of their own share of the property, and it does not have a right of survivorship. When one owner dies, the deceased tenant's ownership interest passes to their heirs, not the remaining tenants.
The experienced New York estate administration attorneys at Landskind & Ricaforte Law Group can guide you through the probate process and help determine which properties can be passed immediately to new owners. Contact us today through our online form to learn how we can help.