What Does Right of Survivorship Mean in Florida Probate Law?

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right of survivorship

While no one really wants to think about a friend, partner, or loved one passing away, these are realities that have to be faced. When you’re purchasing a property with someone else, you have to consider what happens to the property when one of the owners passes away. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s always a good idea to contact an attorney so they can help make sure you keep everything that you’re entitled to. 

The last thing you want to do is lose something that’s rightfully yours, especially at such a difficult time. If you need a probate lawyer in Stuart, Martin County, don’t hesitate to reach out to Crary Buchanan. Call 772-287-2600 today for a free consultation. You can also easily schedule a free consultation online with our simple to use the contact form.

Right Of Survivorship

In Florida, if you hold title to a property with another person, you can do so through joint tenancy with the right of survivorship (WTROS). Holding title in this way gives both owners equal rights to the property. When one of the owners passes away, the property is automatically transferred to the surviving owner. 

In order to own a property in this manner, it must be expressly stated in the deed. If it isn’t, the ownership arrangement will default to a tenancy in common with no right of survivorship. Make sure all of your documents are correct and that you provide all the necessary information because even if you and your partner both intended to have the right of survivorship, it wouldn’t exist unless it’s executed properly.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Survivorship Rights

Unsurprisingly, there are advantages and disadvantages to holding title as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. The main advantage is the ease with which the surviving owner takes ownership of the property. 

One major drawback to holding a title in this manner is possible debts that your partner incurs. If your partner is sued and a judgment is issued, it’s possible that a lien could be put on the property you share, even if the debt has absolutely nothing to do with you or that property. You would be compensated for your part of the property, but then you have to deal with complications about how the property is valued. You obviously won’t own or be able to use that property any longer, which could be very problematic if you were living in the property or using it for business.

Additionally, if your partner decides to sell or transfer their half of the property to someone else, survivorship rights are terminated, and you will no longer automatically receive the other half of the property when your partner dies. In this case, ownership would automatically convert to tenants in common. 

Other Ways to Hold Title In Florida

There are several other options regarding holding title in Florida. If at any point you’re confused and need a probate lawyer in Stuart, Florida, don’t hesitate to reach out.

1. Tenancy In Common

In Florida, tenancy in common is the default form of ownership when more than one person purchases a property. It’s similar to joint tenancy, but in this case, you have the option of giving your portion of the property to your heirs. This prevents the property from going through probate but allows you to pass the property on to whomever you wish. 

2. Tenants By Entirety

When a married couple purchases a property together, it’s usually as tenants by the entirety. When one spouse passes away, the house automatically goes to the other spouse.

3. Sole Ownership

If you purchase a property on your own, you are the sole owner. If you are married but don’t want to buy a property as a couple, you may need to explicitly state in writing that your spouse has no ownership rights to your property.

So, What’s The Difference Between Joint Tenancy WTROS And Tenants By The Entirety?

At first glance, joint tenancy WTROS and tenants by the entirety look quite similar. However, there are some key differences. With joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, one of the owners is able to transfer their half of the property to someone else.

If you hold title as tenants by the entirety, this is not permissible. Neither spouse is able to transfer any portion of the property to anyone else without the other spouse’s permission, so you can almost be guaranteed that the property will be transferred to the surviving spouse. 

Additionally, if you own a property as tenants by the entirety, creditors generally cannot put a lien on your property if only one spouse is responsible for the debt. The only exception to this is if you owe money to the IRS, even if that money isn’t owed by both spouses. 

Contact Us Today

Crary Buchanan is a general practice law firm dedicated to providing quality legal services in the state of Florida. Our lawyers have significant legal experience in virtually every major area of law, and most of our associates are Board Certified by the Florida Bar in their areas of expertise. This breadth of legal experience, coupled with our years of service and dedication in our community, means Crary Buchanan attorneys are miles above the rest. 

If you have more questions or want a dedicated probate lawyer in Stuart, FL, to help you, call 772-287-2600. You can also easily schedule a free consultation online with our simple to use the contact form. We have successfully resolved hundreds of disagreements involving ownership and probate issues over the years and can boast of many satisfied clients. You can always depend on Crary Buchanan for our honesty, trustworthiness, hard work, and experience. Call today.  

The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not decide whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed, nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.