Estate Planning

Survivorship Rights in Arizona

Survivorship Rights in Arizona

Joint Tenants with right of survivorship in Arizona

Read our article to understand a little bit more about survivorship rights in the state of Arizona and how that can affect you.

The state of Arizona is a community property state. Property law in Arizona falls under ARS Title 33 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, and joint tenancy with the right of survivorship is under ARS Title 33-431 of the same Statutes.

When multiple people own property in Arizona, they are usually referred to as concurrent estates. The owners (or tenants) are usually referred to as tenants in common or joint tenants.

The right of survivorship is not an easy topic, and it can alter the default distribution of your property to your heirs. Consult with an estate planning attorney or an Arizona probate attorney to make sure your estate plan achieves your goals.

Some of our clients want to avoid probate, while others want to ensure their surviving spouse will inherit their property when they pass away. This is especially important when we talk about estate planning for blended families. You may want your new spouse and your children from a previous marriage to share the property when you pass away.

When the deed has tenants in common with the right of survivorship, the owner of the property after the first person passes away will be the other co-owner or co-owners. For example, if the owners of the property are initially a husband and wife, after the first spouse passes, the property will then be 100% owned by the other spouse. The last surviving spouse will own it.

Real estate and real property, in general, represent a significant part of most people's savings. It is important to ensure that all your property titles are correct, and they will go to the person you want in your estate.

Property held in Trust is treated differently. Talk to a wills and trust lawyer in Chandler if you want to understand how to set up a living trust and correctly title your property held in Trust for your benefit.

See below a list of frequently asked questions when we meet with clients in our office. This will help you understand community property rules from our state a little bit better.

Frequently Asked Questions about Survivorship Rights in AZ:

1. Is it possible to remove the right of survivorship from a deed?

An attorney can help you with this. The right of survivorship can be removed from a deed if all co-owners involved agree to it. If they disagree, a legal process will have to be initiated in court to contest the ownership of the property.

The right of survivorship may also have tax implications, so make sure to talk to an attorney before removing or gifting property to someone else.

Also, make sure to consult an attorney if you are selling the property below market value, as this can cause tax issues with the IRS, as it may be seen as a gift to the buyer.

2. What does joint tenancy with the right of survivorship mean?

Joint tenancy with the right of survivorship means that two or more people own equal interests in the property. They are co-owners and own the property together. The last surviving person will inherit the property as specified in the deed.

Joint tenancy can be particularly problematic when dealing with blended families. Children from a previous marriage will no longer be heirs if the new spouse passes away before. A right of survivorship deed is a great way to avoid probate but is also an easy way to remove heirs from the property if the surviving owner is the spouse who joined the marriage later. The property will automatically go to the surviving spouse, and the previous children will no longer have any interest in the property.

We usually recommend the creation of a living trust that becomes irrevocable after the passing of the first spouse when blended families are involved. There are different ways to ensure your estate doesn't go through probate and that the ownership of your property remains within your bloodline.

3. What is a community property with the right of survivorship deed?

This type of deed is usually used for married couples. A right of survivorship deed allows married people to share a property title (co-ownership) where both have equal shares. When the first spouse passes away, the surviving spouse will own the property alone. By having a survivorship deed in place, probate can be avoided. Arizona is a community property state.

To avoid probate when the second spouse passes away, a different type of deed will be needed. We recommend consulting with a Probate Attorney in Arizona, Chandler, to design an estate plan that works for your needs. A right of survivorship deed is a great instrument when used correctly, but it will not completely avoid probate if not done properly.

4. Are there any tax implications with right of survivorship deeds?

We recommend that you talk to a CPA or tax attorney to understand how taxes work for your specific estate. Depending on the size of the estate and the family dynamics, a right of survivorship may or may not have tax implications.

5. What does "tenancy by the entirety" mean?

Tenancy by the entirety means that all co-owners of the property own the property 100%, and they all have the right to occupy it as joint tenants. "Tenancy by the entirety" is usually referred to as TBE. When the first owner passes away, the ownership of the property transfers to the surviving co-owner (or co-owners).

Real estate that has a "tenancy by the entirety" deed may avoid probate, but it also may unintentionally disinherit family members. This is especially true when there is a blended family with children from a previous marriage.

6. What does joint tenant in common mean?

Joint tenants in common are usually referred to as JTIC, and it usually refers to property owned where rights of survivorship do not apply. It means that each individual owns a specific part of the property, and upon their passing, the other individuals will not have a right of survivorship to that specific portion.

7. Can you be joint tenants if you are not married?

Yes, joint tenants allow people who are not spouses to own property. It allows two or more people to have an interest in the property (either real estate, personal property, or intellectual property).

Call Citadel Law Firm today to talk about your estate planning

Whether you are part of a blended family or a single person, we will design the perfect estate planning solution for you. Citadel Law Firm specializes in estate planning and probate. Our experienced estate planning attorneys in Chandler, AZ, will be pleased to assist you.

Call (480) 565-8020 or click the button below to schedule your free estate planning consultation. We are here to help you.