What Is the Meaning of “JT TEN?”

According to About.com, the abbreviation “JT TEN” stands for joint tenants with right of survivorship. It indicates joint ownership of an asset by two or more people. If one owner dies, the asset immediately becomes the property of the remaining owner or owners. The right of survivorship exempts the property from the legal process of administering the deceased’s person’s estate, also known as probate.

About.com states that ownership with the right of survivorship is not the normal wayfor two or more people to share ownership of property. More often, joint ownership is in the form called “tenants in common,” which does not necessarily include the right of survivorship. It is common for property to pass between a husband and a wife or a parent and a child, where the survivor is the normal heir to the property. Bank or investment accounts, business interests, stocks, bonds and real estate are all properties for which owners choose the right of survivorship.

About.com further notes that people owning property jointly typically hold it without rights of survivorship. Each party owns a specific, undivided percentage of the property. Upon the death of one of the owners, ownership of his percentage passes through his estate, according to the terms of his will. The property only passes to the other owner if she is the deceased’s heir through blood or marriage or is specifically named as the beneficiary in the will. However, if the property changes hands by this method, the law requires it to go through probate.