Joint Tenants and the Deceased Joint Tenant Affidavit

What happens if you own real estate jointly with someone (i.e as joint tenants with right of survivorship or as tenants by the entirety) and the other property owner dies? Who gets his or her half of the property? Did they want you to have it? How do you get it?

Don’t worry, if the joint tenant dies, the property is yours. That is the purpose of joint tenancy — if one owner dies the other owner(s) automatically get the ptoperty. But when it comes time to sell the real estate, the title company will be looking for proof that the joint owner has passed on, and a death certificate is not enough.

Fortunately, the process of removing a deceased joint tenant from title is simple. A form called a Deceased Joint Tenant Affidavit needs to be prepared by someone with knowledge of the facts (typically the surviving joint tenant), signed, notarized, and filed with the county recorder along with a death certificate.

If you fail to have this procedure completed after the death of the deceased joint tenant, you can do it at the time of the sale of the real estate. However, it is best to handle this immediately after the joint tenant’s death to avoid complications in case you die before you sell the real estate, or in case you want to add another joint tenant to the real estate or modify title in any other way. Preparing a Deceased Joint Tenant Affidavit is simple and inexpensive, and can clear the way for a simple transition to your buyers or heirs.