When more than one buyer buys a house, the method in which those buyers take title to the property is an important decision. In South Carolina, the two most common methods for taking title to property that is jointly-owned is either as tenancy in common (TIC) or as joint tenants with a right survivorship (JTROS). While both TIC and JTROS entitle each owner to an undivided interest in the property, the manner in which the owners take title can have significant effects, especially if one of the owners dies.
When co-owners own property as tenants in common (TIC), if one of the owners dies, the deceased’s interest in the property goes into the deceased’s estate when the estate is probated. In other words, when one of the owners dies, his or her interest in the property is transferred to his or her estate. Then, when the estate is probated, the deceased’s interest will pass onto his or her designees under the deceased’s will or to the deceased’s heirs under the South Carolina rules for intestate succession. Taking title as TIC is most common when the joint owners are unrelated business partners or if one or more of the owners has children from a previous relationship and wishes their interest be transferred to those children in the case of the owner’s death.
When co-owners take title as joint tenants with a right of survivorship (JTROS), if one of the owners dies, the deceased’s interest would automatically be transferred to the surviving owner. If there is more than one surviving owner, the deceased’s interest is split equally amongst them. Because the deceased owner’s interest automatically transfers to the surviving owner(s), property held as JTROS is considered a non-probate asset. Taking title as JTROS is most common when the co-owners are married or closely related.
When deciding how to take title to a piece of property, it is important to consider the ramifications of the decision, which may require buyers to consult with their closing attorney, estate planning attorney, and/or their tax adviser.
Historical Fact: The Palmetto Compress and Warehouse Building was designed by Columbia architect James B. Urquhart. The warehouse is located on Devine Street adjacent to the Blossom Street bridge and currently is used as upscale apartments. The building was constructed in 1917 and later doubled in size in 1923. The original building was used for the short-term storage of cotton bales in transit to the textile mills. The complex also was used for the mechanical compression of the cotton bales. The building is one of only four surviving cotton compress in the Southeast.