Many people hear that avoiding probate is a good thing, but they don’t really know how it works or what they have to do to make sure property stays out of the probate process. One common way you can avoid probate is to own property jointly with someone else. Joint property is often one of the easiest forms of probate avoidance property to create, though it isn’t perfect.
Tenancy by the Entirety: Many married couples in North Carolina own their home as tenants by the entirety. This is a form of joint ownership where each spouse has an interest in the real estate and, upon the others death, the surviving spouse retains ownership. When a tenant by the entirety dies, the other tenant does not have to first go before the probate court to transfer ownership. However, once the remaining owner dies, the property will have to pass through probate unless another form of probate avoidance is used.
Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship: Similar to tenants by the entirety, a joint tenancy with the right of survivorship allows co-owners to skip probate transfers once one of the co-owners dies. This type of ownership often applies to bank accounts, stock, and other types of financial instruments, as well as to real property. Like tenants by the entirety, a joint tenant with the right of survivorship automatically becomes the sole owner once the other co-owner dies. However, there are more than one type of joint bank accounts in North Carolina, so you should talk to your estate planning attorney for more information.