Georgia allows individuals to pass real property to more than one person. Often, title to real property is passed to two or more people by granting a concurrent estate. Granting concurrent estates can be done in a will or by property deed. In Georgia, tenancies are presumed to be tenancies in common, unless specific language granting a joint tenancy with right of survivorship is used.
Georgia recognizes several types of deeds including warranty deeds, quitclaim deeds and deeds of trust. According to Georgia property law, warranty deeds include a warranty of good title and a warranty that the title being passed is not subject to any liens. Warranty deeds in Georgia must list the location of the property being transferred and the amount of consideration involved. Additionally, Georgia warranty deeds must be signed by the grantor and notarized.
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Joint tenancies are concurrent estates owned by two or more people. Owners of concurrent estates have undivided interests in specific property. As a general rule, joint tenancies require unity of interest and time, meaning all joint tenants receive equal shares under the same instrument. Tenancies in common are joint tenancies; however, they are different than joint tenancies with right of survivorship. Tenants in common may pass their interests to any heir they wish.
Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship
A joint tenancy with right of survivorship differs from a tenancy in common in that owners do not get to choose heirs to their interests. Instead, joint tenants with right of survivorship pass their interests to the other joint tenants automatically upon death. For example, where three joint tenants have a right of survivorship, if one dies, the remaining tenants automatically receive the deceased's share equally. In other words, the last surviving tenant ends up with the entire estate.
Not unlike other jurisdictions, Georgia presumes a tenancy in common because it is less restrictive than joint tenancies with right of survivorship. If a warranty deed lists two grantees without specific right of survivorship language, it is presumed the grantor meant to leave a tenancy in common. Right of survivorship language is evidenced when a will or deed states, "All of my property to A and B as joint tenants with right of survivorship and not as tenants in common."