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Ways of Holding Title to Real Estate

Title to real property in Massachusetts may be held by individuals, either in Sole Ownership or in Co-Ownership. Co-Ownership of real property occurs when title is held by two or more persons. There are several variations as to how title may be held in each type of ownership. The following brief summaries reference seven of the more common examples of Sole Ownership and Co-Ownership.

1. Individually – When a sole person is the grantee, title is held “Individually”

2. Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship – “Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship” is when there is an undivided interest in property, taken by two or more joint tenants. The interests must be equal, occurring under the same conveyance, and beginning at the same time. Upon the death of a joint tenant, the interest passes to the surviving joint tenants, rather than to the heirs of the deceased. Either of the individuals may convey their interest without the consent of the other, thereby breaking the “joint” tenancy.

3. Tenants in Common – “Tenants in Common” is an undivided ownership in real estate by two or more persons. The interest need not be equal, and, in the event of the death of one of the owners, no right of survivorship in the other owners exist, the interest will pass to the heirs of the deceased tenant in common.

4. Tenants by the Entirety – “Tenants by the Entirety” is a form of ownership by spouses only, whereby each owns the entire property. In the event of the death of one, the survivor owns the property without probate. Neither spouse may convey their interest without the consent of the other.