Question: The deed to my house that my girlfriend and I own says “JTWROS.” What the heck does this mean?
Answer: It means you really liked your girlfriend when you bought the house.
A house owned by more than one person can either be linked together or held in two separate shares. You (or your girlfriend) got to decide your manner of ownership at closing.
JTWROS, is an abbreviation for “Joint Tenants With Rights of Survivorship.” When you die, owning a house in this manner, your girlfriend gets 100% of the house if she survives you.
Another form of ownership is “TIC,” or “Tenants In Common.” This manner of ownership passes your share to your estate upon your death. If you have a will, it will state who gets your share of the house. Without a will, certain members of your family will inherit.
If your relationship is going well, you can leave the deed as is, which is similar to how married couples own homes. If you are considering breaking up, maybe you would both want to change the tenancy to TIC. Think of it as your last Valentine’s Day gift to each other.
Attorney James Haroutunian practices real-estate law, estate planning and probate at 790 Boston Road, Billerica. He invites questions at email@example.com or by phone at 978-671-0711. His website blog is found at www.hlawoffice.com. This column is published for informational purposes only and not to be relied on as legal advice, in any manner.