When you die, your heirs could end up empty handed. Co-owners of property held as joint tenants don't have the right to leave their interest to anyone other than the co-owner. The right of survivorship clause protects the co-owners from the burden of sharing ownership of the property with strangers, guaranteeing sole ownership after a co-owners death. For joint owners to pass on their interest after death, the deed must be changed from joint tenants to tenants in common. A tenancy in common deed guarantees that each deceased co-owner's interest passes directly to his heirs.
Discuss the changes to the deed with your co-owners. All of the joint tenants listed on the deed must agree to convert the deed to the new form of ownership. Designate each tenant's percentage of ownership, which may be equal or unequal, depending a range of factors including the amount each co-owner paid into the deal.
Acquire a blank copy of the deed used in your state. Deeds can be downloaded online or purchased from an office supply store. If you can guarantee that the property's chain of title is free from claims or defects, acquire a warranty deed form. If you are uncertain about the chain of title, or you know of any claims against the property, you may wish to use a quitclaim deed.
Consult a copy of the original joint tenancy deed. You can get a copy of your deed from the deed recorder of the county courthouse. Review the deed, making note of the legal description of the property.
Complete the blank deed. The grantors are all the co-owners listed on the joint tenancy deed. The grantees will be the exact same co-owners; the parties will grant their interest in the property back to themselves.
Hire an attorney to review the deed and confirm that all the information is complete and correct. To avoid potential misinterpretation, do not record a deed with errors or out-of-place markings. If there are mistakes and errors to correct, create a new deed.
Sign the tenants in common deed. All co-owners must sign the deed in front of a notary public before it can be deemed fully executed and recorded.
File the tenants in common deed at your local register of deeds office. Usually, you pay a nominal fee to record the deed, however, this varies by jurisdiction. Once the deed is recorded, the joint tenancy deed is dissolved and the tenancy in common deed becomes effective.
Based in Virginia Beach, Tiffany Winston has invested in real estate since 2003. She specializes in raw land development and new construction. She is also a paralegal, with experience searching titles and processing foreclosures. Winston admits she's addicted to HGTV reality shows and is working on her own investing ebook series.