There may be several advantages for some people in California who want to use joint tenancy with right of survivorship to pass on property although certain conditions must be observed as well. This approach can allow property to pass without going through the probate process.
This allows a several people to own a piece of property equally. As an example, three siblings might own a home. If one sibling dies, the remaining two would each own 50% of the home. If one of the surviving siblings subsequently dies, the last sibling alive would fully own the home.
Creating a joint tenancy with right of survivorship requires what is known as four unities. These are unity of time, title, interest and possession. This means that all property interests have to be conveyed at the same time using the same instrument. The owners must all get the same interest and right of possession. Without these conditions in place, the joint tenancy with right of survivorship could be considered invalid.
There are also situations in which the property may end up having to go through probate. This is the case if the last survivor dies. It can also happen if all owners die at the same time. In these cases, either the joint owners’ wills or state law would determine the heirs.
One reason some people prefer to try to avoid probate is because families might be more likely to raise conflicts during the probate process. With other methods, such as a beneficiary designation, a trust or a joint tenancy with right of survivorship, the property passes when the person dies. Probate takes time, and probate disputes could arise if family members feel that a person was unduly influenced when creating a will. Conflict might also happen if the person dies without an estate plan.