What It Means to Inherit Property through Joint Tenancy in Oklahoma
If two or more persons own property in joint tenancy, then, when one owner dies, the other owner(s) automatically take possession of the deceased owner’s share of the property. This is called “right of survivorship.” Strictly speaking, you don’t “inherit” property through joint tenancy, because you already owned an interest in all the property before the other owner died.
How do I take ownership of property after a joint tenant dies?
If you own property in joint tenancy, then you don’t need to do anything to take possession of the property after the other owner dies. The property automatically becomes yours. You don’t have to go to probate court, or do anything else.
However, if you own land in joint tenancy, you will need to file an “Affidavit of Surviving Joint Tenant” along with a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate. These documents will be filed with the county clerk in the county where the land is located. Filing these documents doesn’t transfer ownership – the owner’s death automatically transferred ownership. But, filing the documents is necessary to record the transfer of ownership.
How do I file an Affidavit and a death certificate?
I’ve prepared a blank form for an Affidavit of Surviving Joint Tenant, that you can fill out, and take to the county clerk, along with a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate. Click here to download the Affidavit:
NOTE: This form will work only in certain circumstances, but not others. Also, even if this form will work for you, you may make a mistake in filling out the form. Any mistakes could cause problems with the ownership of the property. While I am making this form available for informational purposes, I strongly encourage you not to file the form without assistance from competent legal counsel.
To obtain a certified copy of a death certificate of a person who died in Oklahoma, contact the Oklahoma Department of Health. Click here to see the Health Department’s website, which has instructions for obtaining a death certificate. If the person died in a state other than Oklahoma, contact that state’s agency that issues death certificates – the name of the agency is different in each state.
How do I gain ownership of non-real property in joint tenancy?
If you own non-real property (that is, property that is not land) in joint tenancy, there may be other steps you need to take to record the transfer. There are different rules for each type of property; consult an attorney or financial advisor if you would like to know how to record the transfer on a particular piece of property. Please be aware, though, that the actual transfer of the property occurs automatically on the deceased owner’s death. The steps that you must take do not transfer the property; the steps you take merely record the transfer of the property.
Because transfer of property in joint tenancy is so simple, joint tenancy is often an attractive option for planning your estate.
How do I know if my property is in joint tenancy?
To see if property that you currently own is in joint tenancy, look at the document or deed transferring the property to you. If the document has the words “joint tenancy” or “right of survivorship” then your property is likely in joint tenancy.
To find out more about joint tenancy, read my earlier blog post here.
Should I work with an attorney?
It may be helpful for you to consult an attorney if:
you would like to place property in joint tenancy, or
if you owned property in joint tenancy and the other owner has passed away, or
you own property, and you aren’t sure whether it’s in joint tenancy.
The Persaud Law Office has handled issues relating to joint tenancy, and we can help you. You may contact us for a free consultation.