Joint Tenant vs. Tenant in common. Under Alberta Law what do they mean? These things seem so similar but can be very different from a legal perspective. When you buy a home (house, condo, bare land, etc) your lawyer should ask you, if you are buying with another person or people, if you prefer to be a joint tenant or a tenant in common. This will then be reflected on the mortgage (if any) and registered on the title to the property. So, what is this real estate law difference?

Joint Tenant

If you are a joint tenant, you will own the property equally with another person. When one of you passes away, that persons interest in the property goes directly to the surviving joint tenant. In fact it never becomes a part of the deceased persons estate and thus the will plays no part in that share of the property. The surviving joint tenant just swears an affidavit that they are the surviving joint tenant and land titles will transfer the full of the property in their name. Here is a link to the Alberta Government’s information on this topic. If a blended family has the intention of their share of the property to go to their children, then this is not the best way to have a property registered. While we cannot give US law advice, it is my understanding that this is similar to community property.

Tenant in Common

As a tenant in common you can still have the property shared with another person. You can own it 50/50, 70/30, 99/1 . Basically you can have it registered in what ever percentage that you want. When one f the owners passes away, their share in the property will then pass to their beneficiary under their will. If they have no will, then their share will pass to their next of kin as per the intestacy laws. For two spouses who want the other person to get the whole of the house, this is not the best choice as it means that they will need to probate the estate just to pass the home over to them. Better to be a joint tenant.

Be sure to watch our YouTube video on this subject by clicking here.

Jeff Kahane is a Calgary lawyer at Kahane Law Office