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What Is Joint Ownership?

More than one individual may own whole assets, such as real estate or intellectual properties. When an asset is owned by 2 or more individuals, enterprises, companies, or parties in general, the form of ownership is entitled joint ownership. This is a generic legal term that can be applied to any form of ownership that is demonstrated by 2 or more parties.

When one of the involved parties dies, the ownership rights of that individual is divided amongst the surviving parties rather than the beneficiaries or heirs of the party. Thus, the asset does not undergo probate. Joint ownerships are very difficult to manage, especially when a party dies. All involved individuals sign detailed legal documents ensuring the rights of each party are asserted. As such, the wishes and rights of a party may be fulfilled in the event of his or her death.

Also known as co-ownership, joint ownership is common amongst married couples that wish to declare ownership over a piece of real estate. When a husband or wife dies, the assets in his or her name under joint ownership are immediately passed on to the surviving spouse, which ensures a quick and uncomplicated transfer of assets. However, in cases of divorce, a couple that declared joint ownership over assets must divide the aforementioned assets equally or may concede rights to a few assets in order to gain other co-owned assets. A spouse can trade his or her rights to certain assets to his or her spouse in divorce settlements.

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