Survivorship Deed FAQ - United States


A Survivorship Deed transfers residential or commercial property from one property owner (the grantor) to another (the grantee) while allowing them to avoid going through probate when they (the grantor) passes away. The parties transferring property in a Survivorship Deed must have full ownership of the property.

For example, if a married couple owns a home together as joint tenants with undivided interest in the property and they create a Survivorship Deed, if one of them passes away, it helps to transfer the deceased spouse’s share in the property to the living spouse. Since the property never becomes part of the deceased person’s estate, it can bypass probate.

Survivorship Deeds are most often used between married couples who wish to ensure that the property is passed directly to the surviving partner if one of them should pass away.

Terms in a Survivorship Deed
Who are the parties in a Survivorship Deed?

A Survivorship Deed includes the following parties:

Grantor: The person who is giving their interest in a property to someone else.

Grantee: The person who is receiving someone else’s interest in a property.

Note, you may have more than one grantor or grantee in your Survivorship Deed.

Witness: A person who observes the signing of the Survivorship Deed. This is only required in certain states and counties.

Notary Public: The person who authenticates the execution of the Survivorship Deed before it is submitted to the land records office.

What does joint tenancy mean?

Joint tenancy is when two or more people (usually a married couple) own undivided interest in a residential property or land.

With a Survivorship Deed in place, when one of the parties in a joint tenancy dies, the other party (or parties) takes over the deceased party’s interest in the property instead of it passing to the deceased’s heirs or beneficiaries.

What is right of survivorship?

Right of survivorship refers to the right of the surviving party (usually a husband or wife) to take over their deceased partner’s interest in a property that they owned equal interest in without having to go through probate.

What is survivorship community property?

Survivorship community property is when each spouse owns half of the property as well as any and all debts that each spouse accrued. If one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse will receive the deceased’s interest in the property without having to go through probate, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

Survivorship community property is only available in certain states and generally offers less protection to the parties involved than tenancy by entirety (when spouses own property together as one legal entity), since debt collectors can make claims against the property in order to cover any debt.

What is an encumbrance in a Survivorship Deed?

An encumbrance is when someone who is not a property owner has a right to or share of interest in the property.

For example, if there is a lien against the property, the person who holds the lien does not own the property, but they do own interest in the property.

What is an exception in a Survivorship Deed?

An exception in a Survivorship Deed means anything that may limit the title of property. For example, it could mean an encumbrance, like a lien, or a reservation, like if the owner wishes to retain partial rights to a property after it sells.

What is consideration?

Consideration in a Survivorship Deed is what the grantee (the person receiving the property) will give to the grantor (the person giving the property) in exchange for their interest in the title.

In a Survivorship Deed, it is common for consideration to be a small amount like $1.00 as these documents are most often created between husbands and/or wives.

Property Information
What is the legal description of the property?

The legal description of a property is a description of the land that follows the public land survey system. It includes information about the location of the property, what the boundaries or property lines are, and any encumbrances or exceptions currently affecting the property.

You should be able to obtain the complete legal description of your property from the County Recorder's Office by providing your municipal address or tax parcel number (the 10-12 digit number identifying ownership and assessed value on your Tax Statement or Personal Property Listing Form).

Signing and Recording
How do I execute a Survivorship Deed?

To execute your Survivorship Deed, you will need to complete the following actions:

  • Have your Survivorship Deed signed by the grantor (person who will transfer property to someone else).
  • Have your Survivorship Deed signed by the grantee (the person to whom the property will be transferred), depending on your state requirements.
  • Have your Survivorship Deed witnessed, depending on your state and county (check with your county recorder’s office).
  • Have your Survivorship Deed notarized by a notary public.
  • Submit your Survivorship Deed to the land records office in which the property is located.
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