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What is joint tenancy?

Joint tenancy is just one way that more than one person can own a piece of property. Many spouses own their property as joint tenants, with equal shares in the property. Joint tenants cannot sell the property without all joint tenants agreeing to the sale; this protects spouses from having property sold out from under them. If one joint tenant dies, that person's share in the property goes to the surviving joint tenant. Joint tenancy is just one way that people can hold property jointly. Tenancy in the entirety is similar to joint tenancy, except each spouse holds an undivided half of the property. Tenants in common can own unequal shares of property, and this is a common way for commercial partners and cohabiting unmarried couples to hold property. Each type of ownership also has different implications upon death of an owner. To complicate matters further, there are also future interests based upon the occurrence of a contingency. An attorney can help a real estate purchaser to determine which form of ownership is most beneficial under his or her specific circumstances.

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