Owning property by joint tenancy gives each joint tenant the right of survivorship if the four unities of time, title, interest and possession exist, according to the American Bar Association. However, each joint tenant can legally eliminate the right of survivorship without asking or notifying the other tenant. A joint tenant can convey the property to himself as a tenant-in-common, which removes the survivorship right from the remaining tenant. The conveying joint tenant must record the transferring deed.
Joint tenants must comply with the unity of interest, which means each joint tenant always owns an equal undivided share in the property, explains the American Bar Association. For example, if one joint tenant contributes more than half of the purchase price, maintenance expenses and other costs, he is only entitled to one half of the sale proceeds when the two joint tenants sell the property. The law requires a joint tenant to account to the other joint tenant if the property produces any income. However, the law does not require the same joint tenant to disclose offers to purchase the property or other beneficial information.
A joint tenant cannot sever the right of survivorship by a last will and testament, even if the will makes it clear that severance is the joint tenant's intent, notes the American Bar Association. A will has no effect until the person who made the will dies, and his interest in the property ends at death.