Garner, NC asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for North Carolina

Q: My sister and I bought property in NC together. The deed reads as "Joint tenants in common with right of survivorship"

My sister and I bought property in North Carolina together. An attorney filed the paper work and the new deed reads "Joint tenants in common with right of survivorship". I understand (matches the situation exactly) the "joint tenants in common". I understand that the ROS keeps the property out of probate, but does the ROS mean that my wife and my sister's husband cannot inherit their spouse's interest in the property? If the time comes, can we simply say that, as married persons, our interest is shared with our spouse as tenets in entirety? If not, what changes does the attorney needs to make to correct the deed? Would adding "and wife" for me and "and husband" for my sister solve the inheritance issue and keep the property out of probate? Should we add our spouses' names? What are the side effects of adding "and spouse" or a name? If my sister isn't actually married (they said they are), how to insure her partner inherits her share?

1 Lawyer Answer
Angela L. Haas
Angela L. Haas
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: The spouses would not inherit, because the property would pass to the survivor and only the survivor's spouse would inherit (maybe). I say "maybe because I've never of "joint tenants in common with a right of survivorship". It's "tenants in common" or it's "joint tenants with a right of survivorship". If the language is unclear, it defaults to "tenants in common".

If you wanted both spouses to inherit, you could have the deed state that there is a 50% interest owned as tenants by the entirety by you and your wife, and the other 50% interest is owned as tenants by the entirety by your sister and her husband. If your sister isn't really married, then it should say that 50% interest is owned by she and he as joint tenants with a right of survivorship.

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