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.
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.