Deciding the best way to own property jointly in Florida can be very complex. Each type of ownership comes with implications of stakes, asset protection and inheritance.
Property in Florida can be held jointly in four common ways:
- Tenants in Common
- Joint Tenancy
- Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship
- Tenants by the Entirety
In this blog, we’ll make each way to own property jointly in Florida easy to understand:
Read Related: These Title Issues Could Ruin Your Real Estate Closing!
How to Own Property Jointly in Florida:
Tenants in Common
By default, real estate owned simultaneously in Florida is by ‘tenants in common’. It is widely considered the most flexible option for transferring property. There is no legal limit to the number of co-owners a property can have.
This type of jointly owned property allows each owner (as listed on the deed) the right to:
- Equal ownership
- Equal privileges to use all of the property (unless stated in the document).
- There is no asset protection provided by this type of ownership.
However, tenants can also have different ownership interests such as one person with 55% and the other with 45%. But that doesn’t mean they will automatically be assigned specific physical boundaries. That only occurs if it is stated specifically in the title.
The percentage share is usually determined by the investment each owner paid. For example, if David paid 60% of the property to Suzie’s 40% then David would own 60%.
Joining and Leaving a Tenants in Common Agreement
- Tenants may join and leave the agreement at any time, if the other tenants consent.
- Tenancy in common ends when a partition action is filed. This allows one of the tenants to sell their stake.
- If the penultimate tenant sells their stake to the remaining tenant, then the agreement ends and the remaining owner becomes the sole property owner.
- No rights to survivorship – when one tenant dies, In a ½ ownership arrangement, their interest will pass to their estate via probate and not the other owner.
Married couples automatically become ‘joint tenants’ of their property in Florida. But you can also allow other co-owners to enter a joint tenancy agreement. There is no asset protection provided by this type of ownership.
The main difference between joint tenancy and ‘tenants in common’ is that they always own equal shares of the property – so there is no chance to assign different ownership stakes.
Joining and Leaving a Joint Tenancy
- If one owner dies, their interest immediately ceases to exist and the remaining owners gain the stake equally.
- There is no need to have the owner’s interest pass through probate when they pass away.
Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship
The addition of ‘rights of survivorship’ to a Joint Tenancy in Florida means that the full real estate title passes to the surviving co-owner.
If, for example, David and Suzie hold title as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship, then they each own an undivided ½ interest in the property. But if David dies, then Suzie becomes the sole owner.
The survivor (Suzie) would then only need to record the death certificate of her husband and she would quickly gain sole ownership.
- To create a Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship, the deed must clearly reflect the survivorship intention.
- For example, ‘David and Suzie, as joint tenants with full rights of survivorship’.
Due to the rights of survivorship, this is a very common way to own property jointly in Florida but may not always be the best option; it can be problematic as if one of the owners has debt against them, it creates a lien against their interest in the property.
Tenants by the Entirety
In Florida, ‘Tenancy by Entirety’ is a way to own property jointly in Florida but is only available to married couples.
The married couple is considered a unit, instead of individual owners. So instead of each holding a separate interest, they are considered one and own the property as one.
- When one spouse dies, the property passes automatically to the surviving spouse who becomes the sole owner.
When purchasing property with someone else in Florida, be sure to check the deed.
If you want your interest in the property to pass to the surviving owner (if you pass away before them), then the deed should read ‘joint tenants with rights of survivorship’ or ‘married couple’ or ‘husband and wife’.
If you don’t intend for your interest in the real estate property to pass to the surviving owner, then the deed should not say anything.
Florida Homestead Considerations
- A primary residence in Florida is considered a legally protected Homestead.
- Homestead protections prevent others from forcing sales or disinheritance from an owner.
- For example, a property owner with a spouse and/or minor cannot transfer their Homestead in a will or trust.
- If an owner has no minor children, then the owner can transfer the Homestead only to their spouse.
- However, if the property is owned via joint tenancy with rights of survivorship or tenancy by entirety then there may be exceptions.
Read Related: What is the Florida Homestead Exemption?
Do I Need an Attorney?
We highly advise that you consult a Florida real estate attorney when purchasing property in Florida to determine which way of owning property jointly in Florida is best.
It is also wise to use an attorney when drafting your contracts, deeds or transferring title as any sentence that is incorrect here or is open to interpretation could change how your property is owned, protected from creditors or inherited.
Contact a Commercial Real Estate Lawyer in Florida
If you’re buying or selling a property in Florida, our Florida ownership decisions real estate lawyers can help.
Our experienced and award-winning lawyers can guide you through the process, ensuring your rights are protected while also minimizing the impact of closing costs. We’ll also coordinate, prepare and complete documents related to the title, deed, transfer, and loan acquisition.
If you’re purchasing property or land in St Petersburg or Riverview, Florida, contact us today.
Our St Petersburg & Riverview real estate attorneys have extensive experience that can help you through these tricky moments, reviewing your contract, advising you on the next steps to secure your transaction, and successfully finalizing the purchase of your new home or commercial property.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.