What Is Right of Survivorship?

The right to survivorship refers to a survivor’s legal right to assume ownership of a property when the original owner dies. This is especially important if a family owns a lot of property or with a joint tenancy where more than one person owns the same property and shares the same rights.

Because the right to survivorship does not follow the usual probate proceedings, the transfer of property ownership happens quickly. It also takes precedence over any other types of property claim, making it an important and powerful legal privilege.

Facts about right to survivorship

  • The property and assets are distributed according to the will of the deceased owner or party.
  • The right to survivorship automatically transfers to the individual with a clear title and the privilege to assume ownership.
  • The distribution process could take months or years to complete, depending on the number and type of assets or property to be distributed, the people involved, and the length of time a clear title is obtained. Still, it is more expedient than probate proceedings.
  • The property in question must be held in joint tenancy and have proper tenancy. Joint ownership can be between the deceased and recipient or based on complete tenancy by the recipient.
  • There should be an existing contract between the persons involved that specifies the simultaneous ownership of a personal or real property.
  • A deed with multiple tenants will be split among surviving tenants. Full ownership will only be obtained when there is only one surviving tenant or all other tenants have died except for one.

A contract between two or more people that specifies each person’s interest of the same real or personal property is required for the right of survivorship to exist.
The right to survivorship not only applies to property but also to bonds, back accounts, investments, securities, and vehicles.


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