Texas Joint Tenancy and Tenants in Common

Joint Ownership of Realty in Texas

Tenants in Common

Generally, Texas law presumes co-owners hold property as tenants in common, with an undivided joint interest in the property. Each co-owner has a right to possess the property, and may sell, lease, devise, transfer or otherwise dispose of his interest in the property without permission from any other co-owner. When a co-owner dies, his share of the property passes through probate, either by a devise in his will or according to laws of intestacy if no will is found. 

Joint Tenants (With Right of Survivorship)

A joint tenancy contains a right of survivorship. On the death of one owner, his share of the property will pass to the surviving co-owners. Thus, a joint tenant may not freely devise his interest through a will. Rather, his interest would pass outside of probate, without action through a will.

Unlike many states, Texas does not recognize joint tenancies as having a right of survivorship without a written agreement that specifically includes a right of survivorship. A right of survivorship will not be inferred. Merely giving a title to a co-ownership relationship of “Joint Tenancy” will not confer the right of survivorship.

To establish a right of survivorship in Texas, you must:

1. have a written agreement;
2. signed by the party that died;
3. stating that ownership interest passes to the surviving party.

Texas Estate Code §113.151 (a), (b)

written by by William M. Stevens


This article is based on the legal authorities currently available. Laws depend on implementation and policies of various governing agencies. Agencies may change policies and practices at anytime. This article is provided for information purposes only, may not be construed as legal advice for a particular situation, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

last updated April 15, 2015