Does a Deed or a Will Take Precedence for Ownership of Property after Death?

Precedence between a Deed and a Will depends upon how title to the property is held at the time of the death. But in general, ownership is dictated by a properly filed and recorded deed.

If the person that dies (the decedent) is the sole owner, the real property will pass to the beneficiaries as set forth in the Last Will & Testament (assuming that the Will is properly prepared and is not challenged by any heir).

If the decedent is a joint owner of the property with the right of survivorship provided to another person, the surviving joint owner will take full title to the real estate regardless of what the Last Will & Testament states.

If the decedent owns the property as a tenant in common with another person, then the decedent’s interest in the property (whether it be half ownership, a percentage of ownership, or otherwise) will pass to the beneficiaries named in the Will.

If the property is held by the decedent’s Living Trust, then the terms of the Trust control ownership and disposition.

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