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Does property owned jointly avoid probate?

It depends. Generally, there are four forms of joint ownership. In legal terms, they are known as (1) joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, (2) tenancy in common, (3) tenancy by the entirety, and (4) community property. Ordinarily, interests in property held as joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, tenancy by the entirety, and community property held under joint tenancy avoid probate. An interest in property held as tenancy in common passes by will and thus does not avoid probate.

Two or more people can hold property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship or tenants in common. Only married couples can hold property as tenants by the entirety, and only married couples who live in community property states can own property as community property.

Although an interest in property held as tenancy in common must pass through probate, it is also freely transferable to anyone. Conversely, interests in property held as joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, tenancy by the entirety, or community property held under joint tenancy pass automatically to the remaining owner(s).