What to do When an Estate Contains Joint Tenancy Property

Forest path w coupleIf you’ve lost a loved one and have been named as the executor of the estate, you already know you have your work cut out for you. The probate process does not have to be difficult, but it does require identifying and protecting estate assets and managing the estate until a final distribution to the heirs, among other duties.

Identifying Joint Tenancy Property

During the course of inventorying assets, you may find that the decedent held property in a joint tenancy with someone else, whether it was a surviving spouse, adult child or someone else altogether. Some common language denoting joint tenancy assets includes:

  • Joint tenants
  • Jt. ten
  • Payable on death to
  • POD

When the decedent held property as a joint tenant, the decedent’s portion of the property passes to the other joint tenant or joint tenants immediately upon his or her death. For this reason, the property never becomes property of the decedent’s estate and does not pass through the will, if any.

Nonetheless, property held by the decedent as a joint tenant should be shown on the estate’s tax return, so be sure to notify your accountant of the existence of the property and a reliable estimate of value as of the date of death. Generally speaking, the value of the entire property is included in the taxable estate of the first joint tenant to die, unless the surviving joint tenant contributed to the cost of the property. Certain exceptions apply if the surviving tenant is the spouse of the decedent.

Call to discuss your estate planning and estate administration needs

At Peterson Law Group, we guide your through the estate planning and administration process. Contact the Peterson Law Group today at 979-703-7014, or visit us online to arrange a meeting.


About Chris Peterson

Chris Peterson is an attorney and the owner and founder of Peterson Law Group, a Texas law firm with offices in Bryan/College Station and Kingwood. He mainly practices in the areas of Estate Planning and Business Planning. Chris is also a Certified Estate Planner. Besides his law practice, Chris is a serial entrepreneur and community volunteer. He is known for his cutting edge law practice that utilizes technology to deliver efficient, excellent work.