Minnesota Probate: What Happens With Jointly Owned Property?

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on January 6, 2014

Estate Planning | Asset SearchWe’ve previously discussed the issue of Minnesota probate and how some assets fall outside the probate process. One example of such an asset is jointly owned property. Keep reading to find out more about how jointly owned property operates following the death of one owner.

What is jointly owned property?

Jointly owned property is any property that is held in the name of two or more parties. A good example of jointly owned property is something like a house that you own with another person, typically a spouse. Though land is one of the most common items owned by joint tenants, money can also be held jointly, with bank accounts held in the names of two people with rights of survivorship.

How does joint tenancy work?

Joint tenants share equal ownership of the item of property and have equal right to keep or dispose of the property. Joint tenants also have the right of survivorship, which means that if one of the joint tenants dies then the remaining interest in the property is automatically transferred to the surviving owner.

What is the benefit of joint tenancy?

The benefit of jointly owning property is that it can avoid the time and expense associated with the Minnesota probate process. If you own the property as joint tenant with right of survivorship, then the property in question will pass directly to the remaining joint tenant upon your death and will not be considered part of your probate estate. Continuity is a major benefit of joint tenancy as it allows for assets to pass quickly after death without being frozen or held by a probate court.

Dangers of joint tenancy

Though joint tenancy has real benefits, it can also create problems in some cases. Because joint tenancy grants full ownership rights to both owners this can be a disadvantage in unstable relationships. In cases where a couple is going through marital problems or a parent jointly owns an asset with an estranged child, no action can be taken without full agreement from the other party. This means an angry child might prevent you from selling property that is jointly held.

What about a will?

Many people prepare wills believing that they control who inherits all of their assets. The reality is more complicated than that as some items, especially some bank accounts retirement accounts, life insurance or real property will pass according to their own rules, either due to joint ownership or beneficiary designations. That means that jointly owned property does not need to be handled within the will as it will automatically move to the remaining owner upon your death.

Though it may be confusing, creating an effective estate plan does not have to be an overly complicated process. An experienced Minnesota estate planning lawyer can help walk you through the process of establishing or updating a will or trust. For more information on estate planning in Minnesota, along with a variety of other topics, contact Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm at (612) 424-0398.


Source: “The Benefits And Pitfalls Of Joint Tenancy,” by Glenn Curtis, published at Investopedia.com.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Minnesota Estate Planning: What A Will Won’t Do

The Importance Of A Will In Minnesota


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

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Sara January 23, 2018 at 9:32 pm

What happens in this situation: A woman owns a house free and clear prior to getting married. The couple lives in that home for about 30 years and the husband’s name is never put on the house. The last half of the marriage is less than happy but they remain together only for financial reasons. She doesn’t want him to have her house when she dies. Can she put that in her Will since he is not listed on the house or is it community property anyway due to the length of the marriage?


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