This is the first episode of our new video series covering the right of survivorship among co-owners. This episode introduces the concept of vesting.

Stay tuned for future releases!

Four basic vestings

A vesting is a method of holding title to real estate. Differences in the types of title vestings present different consequences for persons who have interests in property.

When property is held individually it is called sole and separate. When title to real estate is held by multiple owners, it is structured under one of four basic vestings:

  • joint tenancy — Ownership of fractional interests in real estate by two or more individuals each holding an equal share with the right of survivorship. When a joint tenant dies, their interest is eliminated and the surviving joint tenants share the remaining ownership equally. Joint tenants take title together on the same deed, at the same time, hold equal shares in the ownership of the property, and each has the right to possess the entire property, known as the four unities.
  • tenancy in commonTenants in common may have varying percentages of ownership in a property, may take title at different times, and have centralized rights of possession. When a joint tenant conveys their interest in the property to another person, that person takes title as a tenant in common. A tenant in common may will their interest in the property to others on their death since a tenancy in common interest carries no right of survivorship with it.
  • community property — All property acquired by a married couple in California during a marriage is presumed to be community property, unless acquired as the separate property of either spouse. Under the community property vesting, the ownership interests are equal.
  • community property with right of survivorship — Identical to the community property vesting but with the inclusion of words creating the right of survivorship. On the death of a spouse, the surviving spouse automatically becomes the sole owner of the property.

In the reminder of this series, we’ll illustrate the different types of vestings in application.