What Is an Affidavit of Survivorship?

By Beverly Bird

A frequently used tool in estate planning is to hold title to property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. Your co-owner may be your spouse, your child or a dear friend – someone to whom you want the property to pass automatically upon your death. If you elect this option, you don't have to include the property in your will. The survivor needs only to file an affidavit of survivorship with the county where the property is located – the deed takes care of the rest.

Joint Tenancies

If you hold title to property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, you and your co-owner each have an undivided interest in the property. When one of you dies, full ownership shifts entirely and automatically to the survivor. This avoids probate – and, in fact, you have no right to leave your ownership interest to anyone else in your will if you hold the property with this type of deed. However, the survivor must still take at least one step to ensure that title is legally transferred.

The Affidavit

An affidavit of survivorship is a sworn statement, made by the survivor of a joint tenancy, that lets the government know that one joint tenant has died and the survivor is taking full ownership of the property by operation of law. Typically, the survivor must attach to the affidavit a copy of the death certificate, and she may also have to produce a copy of the original deed. The sworn statement ties these two documents together and stays on file with the county as a matter of record.

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Meaning of the Legal Term "Rights of Survivorship"
 

References

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Inherited land has to be transferred by the person responsible for the deceased's estate to the person who's inheriting the property.If the deceased left a will naming you as a beneficiary of the land, the estate's executor is responsible for transferring ownership of the land to you. If the deceased died without leaving a will, the estate's administrator must transfer the land to you according to the laws of intestate succession.

Getting a Heir's Name on a Deed

You may decide as part of your estate planning to deed an interest in your property to an heir prior to your death to avoid probate of the property. There are several methods to accomplish this; however, it is always best to consult with an estate-planning attorney to discuss all options as well as the tax consequences involved.

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