There are different ways to jointly own property, and the advantages and disadvantages of each can be confusing.  Joint tenancy and tenants in common are two ways to jointly own property in Minnesota with very distinct differences

Both joint tenancy and tenants in common describe a type of joint ownership over real property, and the deed should specify whether the real property is owned through joint tenancy or tenants in common.  In Minnesota, any deed that does not clearly state which type of joint ownership the property is owned through is automatically recognized as tenants in common.  While both allow for more than one individual to have an ownership interest in the property at hand, both are structured differently, and have different outcomes once one or more of the owners pass away.

Joint tenancy is most commonly used for joint ownership between two spouses or other family members.  The benefit of owning property through joint tenancy is the right of survivorship; when one owner dies their interest in the property is transferred to the surviving owner(s).  This transfer of interest, or ownership, is typically accomplished through the filing of an affidavit of survivorship.  Not only does owning property as joint tenants result in a much easier and cost-effective transfer when one owner passes away, but it also protects the property from probate.

Individuals who desire to own property with others who may not be family members often jointly own property as tenants in common, as a way to protect and control their interest in the property.  While the benefits of owning property as tenants in common include being able to sell, give away, mortgage, and devise each individual’s interest at any time, the disadvantages can be quite costly.  As opposed to joint tenancy, when one owner passes away while owning property as tenants in common the property does not transfer to the other owner(s).  Instead, the deceased owner’s portion of the property is subject to probate through their estate, and is then passes on to their heirs.