Joint property ownership allows more than one person do have an ownership interest in certain property. For example, spouses will often own bank accounts or the family home as joint owners. While there are different forms of joint property ownership, this type of ownership is not always the best choice for probate avoidance purposes. Though joint ownership can effectively delay having to re-title property through the probate process, it will not completely avoid probate unless additional steps are taken.
Joint Property With the Right of Survivorship
Some forms of jointly owned property come with a right of survivorship. This means that a surviving co-owner will automatically become the sole owner when the other owner dies. When this happens there is no need for the probate courts to approve or preside over the transfer of property because the surviving joint owner is already owner of the property.
Transfers as a Sole Owner
After the joint owner dies and the remaining owner becomes the sole owner, this is where the potential downside of joint property ownership comes into effect. To transfer the property to new owners after the sole owner dies, that property first must go through the probate court process. This is why joint ownership is not the perfect way to avoid probate because it merely delays probate until the surviving owner dies. A more effective way to avoid all probate requirements is to title the property in a living trust.