Answers to Common Questions and Situations

We know how complex and confusing probate situations can be, and did our best to organize an easy to follow knowledge base to help address some of your most pressing questions. Get in Touch
with our team if you still have questions or can’t find what you’re looking for.

What Does Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship Mean?

When buying a property with someone else, there are a few things to consider. First, you must determine how much of this property each of you owns. Second, you should clarify what happens if you or your fellow buyer die: who will get the ownership rights on the property? And in this whole equation, what is the JTWROS meaning?

In most cases, when you buy a home with a spouse, a family member, a friend, or one of your business partners, you’ll enter into a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship agreement.

This legal arrangement, often referred to by its acronym JTWROS, spells out the legal rights of all buyers and outlines what happens if one owner dies or wants to sell the home.

If you’re purchasing a home with someone else, then it’s important to understand how this legal ownership agreement works.

What Do Rights of Survivorship Mean?

 Joint Tenants With Rights Of Survivorship (JTWROS) is a term used to describe how two or more people can own a property together. 

If you hold a home in joint tenants with rights of survivorship arrangement, it means that when one of the owners passes away, his property ownership automatically transfers to all the surviving owners and doesn’t require the opening of an estate to be effective.

However, since property that is a joint tenant with rights of survivorship does not go through probate, there are two additional things to note:

  • first, a will cannot control the property.
  • second, that property is not subject to creditor claims when the deceased has outstanding debts to pay.

This type of ownership arrangement is very popular because of the protections it offers to all owners. Under this arrangement, one of the buyers can’t decide to sell the home or take out a second mortgage without the agreement of all the others.

What Is JTWROS Meaning in Georgia? 

JTWROS is the abbreviation for Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship.

Georgia recognizes Joint Tenancy with the Right of Survivorship as a common form of joint ownership. This form allows multiple people or entities to own a title interest in the property and comes with various rights and responsibilities.

In particular, JTWROS meaning resides in involving all parties having equal ownership and the right to assume another owner’s interest in the event the other owner dies. 

What Types of Accounts Can Be JTWROS? 

Image by Drazen Zigic on Freepik

As mentioned before, JTWROS agreement is an arrangement that allows the co-owner to access a deceased person’s accounts that are listed as JTWROS without needing to go to court:

  • bank accounts – checking and savings accounts are typically named joint accounts and can be JTWROS accounts. If one of the joint owners dies, the surviving owner(s) take over the account, and the deceased person is removed from the account.     
  • real estate – houses, land, and other properties can have a JTWROS designation. However, it’s essential to be aware that any mortgages or loans against the property become the responsibility of the surviving owner(s) when one of the joint owners dies.
  • personal property is an asset that can be moved and not fixed in one location, such as, for example, a house. Personal property owned as JTWROS is usually a vehicle, but it could also be artwork, collectibles, or other assets with a monetary value.

Requirements for JTWROS 

For Joint Tenants With Right of Survivorship to work, they have to meet a few requirements:

Real Estate – when buying a property, you have to sign a document (deed) that specifies that the ownership of that asset passes from the seller to you (the buyer). For JTWROS to work, the deed must expressly state that the property is owned as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship.

Financial Assets – the financial institution will have specific paperwork you must fill out to place a beneficiary on the account or add a joint holder to the account.

Advantages of JTWROS. What Is the Primary Advantage of Being a Joint Tenant With the Right of Survivorship? 

There is a reason why Joint Tenancy With the Right of Survivorship is one of the most common ways for two or more people to own a property together: it comes with plenty of benefits

Here are the main ones:

Joint tenancy simplifies property transfer after death, and the surviving owner avoids probate court.

Image by xb100 on Freepik

Unlike other property arrangements, in the event of the death of one of the co-owners, no probate court action is required to transfer ownership rights to the surviving owner or owners. They are transferred automatically.

Joint tenancy prevents legal issues with persons who might claim ownership. 

Most of the time. However, in some specific situations, there is still the potential that someone may challenge the executed deed.

Equal Responsibility 

Since in a jointly owned property all parties share the asset, they also share any liabilities (mortgages, loans, etc.) associated with the estate. This shared responsibility means that all owners act in the best interest of a common goal; otherwise, they would be responsible for the debts.

Continuity of Joint Tenancy 

When one of the owners dies, the surviving owner immediately takes legal possession of the entire property. They will never have to divide possession or go through a probate process.

According to JTWROS meaning, no owners can transfer property ownership to anyone else. If there is more than one surviving owner, they all continue to share immediate possession of the property in place of the deceased co-owner.

Disadvantages of Joint Tenants With Right of Survivorship 


Joint tenancy supersedes the terms of a  will if one of the tenants changes his mind. 

If you pass away, you cannot transfer your property shares to your heirs. In the JTWROS meaning, when a co-owner dies, his share of the home passes immediately to the surviving co-owners. If you want to transfer your share of the house to a child, you must look for another form of ownership.

Both owners are responsible if one fails to keep up with mortgage payments. 

In this case of joint tenancies, all owners are equally responsible for making mortgage payments on a property. If one of the owners cannot pay, the other owner(s) will have to cover the shortfall, which can become a difficult financial burden to bear.

Removing a joint tenant from a deed requires that person’s approval. 

In this property model, one co-owner cannot remove the other co-owner without their consent and signature.

The estate will still need to go through probate after both – or all – title property owners die

If you have assets titled in joint names with rights of survivorship and both owners pass away at the same time, or if the surviving owner also passes away without adding another joint owner to the title, at that point, probate will become necessary.

Relationship problems 

Entering into a JTWROS account is a big step, so make sure you’re dealing with someone you trust and who has similar financial goals.

Losing control of assets 

After the joint owner’s death, the surviving party can make changes, including who inherits the assets after they pass away. So, according to JTWROS meaning, you could lose control of what happens to your assets if you’re the first to die.

JTWROS vs Tenants in Common 

Real estate titled Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship means that if one of the owners listed on the property passes away, it is assumed that the surviving party of the deed will take full ownership of the property without going through probate proceedings.

Suppose the real estate does not explicitly state that it is owned as Joint Tenants With Rights of Survivorship. In that case, it is assumed to be held as Tenants in Common, and according to the Georgia inheritance law, it may need to go through the probate process to be appropriately transferred to heirs or beneficiaries.

Can the Right of Survivorship Be Challenged? 

JTWROS can be challenged or contested under certain circumstances. Some common reasons for challenging this right include duress, lack of capacity, fraud, or undue influence.

Examples of when JTWROS may be challenged:

If you feel the deed was fraudulently executed before the deceased passed away, you may attempt to challenge the rights of survivorship by filing in court. However, as the property is not a probate asset due to the JTWROS, this filing will often be in Superior Court.

If this happens, the court will set a hearing date later. The typical dispute process includes 5 phases:

  1. Pleadings – the complainant makes a formal allegation or accusation against the other party.
  2. Discovery – each party uses legal tools to gather evidence to support the claims in their pleadings
  3. Motions – a party in the dispute asks the court to do something or make a decision. The most common are motion to compel and motion for summary judgment
  4. Trial – the parties will present their evidence and witnesses, and the court will determine the outcome of the claims made during the pleadings
  5. Appeal – when the complainant believes that the judge has made a mistake at the trial that would affect the case’s outcome.

What Are the Tax Implications of JTWROS? 

Although JTWROS accounts help avoid probate, they may still be subject to various tax rules. We suggest speaking with a CPA about any potential tax implications.

Other Options for Joint Ownership

Tenants in Common, and the abbreviation is TIC. Tenants in Common means that each person on the deed holds a certain percentage of the property. 

When one of the co-owners dies, their interest in the property will go through the probate process to be distributed to their heirs or beneficiaries.

Bottom Line

Probate can be messy and complicated, but it suddenly may seem less stressful when you understand the goal and the process. 

For more information about JTWROS meaning and other probate topics, you can also contact our office at (770) 796-4582 to set up a consultation.


Disclaimer: The information above is provided for general information only and should not be considered legal advice. Our probate attorneys provide legal advice to our clients after talking about the specific circumstances of the client’s situation. Our law firm cannot give you legal advice unless we understand your situation by talking with you. Please contact our law office to receive specific information about your situation.

Schedule A Consultation Today

Compassionate listeners, knowledgeable guidance. Schedule a free consultation with our experienced attorneys and let us help you and your family with your legal concerns.

GET IN TOUCH 770-796-4685

Download the Georgia Probate Handbook.

Learn Important Probate Essentials, including key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.

First Name(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

About the author

Erik J. Broel
Founder & ceo

Erik founded the firm in 2009. He sees it as his personal mission to demystify the process of handling an estate or trust, and to help people by making the complex estate process simple and accessible. He believes there is always a better way to do things, and loves finding new and innovative ways to deliver better, more effective service that solves the client’s key problem or issue, and improves the client’s life.

More about Erik
logos-image logos-image logos-image

© 2024 Georgia Probate Law Group by Broel Law, LLC. All rights reserved.