Joint Tenancy an Option for Disposing of Real Estate without Probate

We recently reported on our New York Probate Lawyer Blog about the need for ancillary estates to dispose of out-of-state real estate in cases that go through probate court.

Estate planning lawyers in New York City understand there are many options for avoiding probate. In some cases trusts or other options can be a desirable alternative. As part of our ongoing series on Avoiding Probate in New York, we will take a look at the options to transfer real estate.
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In general, those estates governed by a Last Will (or Intestate estates without a Will) will enter the probate court process. Probate court is a state process however, and as such it typically will not dispose of real estate or other hard assets owned in another state. It can be necessary to enter the probate process in that state as well, unless you own those assets in trust or other arrangements for avoiding probate have been made.

Some states allow automatic transfer of ownership of the property to your chosen heir. You may hold the property in joint ownership. Joint tenancy with right of survivorship will permit your spouse (or chosen heir) to assume ownership and continue living in the house after your passing.

Probate is not avoided if both owners die at the same time and the last surviving owner must make other arrangements to dispose of the property. In some cases, naming a joint tenancy may also trigger gift taxes. And it can create several headaches that can make it a poor choice for an older person who is seeking to transfer ownership after his or passing.

Joint tenancy involving other assets, such as bank accounts, can also create disputes after your death. In cases, for example, where joint tenancy on a bank account is granted to assist with bills, the person may claim those funds automatically, which may not be in keeping with the original intent of the account owner.

Consulting an estate planning lawyer in New York is the best way to make sure your affairs are in order and that your estate passes to your chosen heirs in the manner of your choosing.


New York City Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas handles all types of probate cases, including Wills, estate planning, estate settlement, advanced directives and guardianship matters. I have helped clients with these matters throughout New York including Suffolk County. Please call me at (212) 355-2575 for a free consultation to discuss your rights.

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