For assets held as joint-tenants, upon the demise of one party, the surviving party inherits the entire asset automatically and thus becoming the sole owner of this asset. Assets held as joint-tenants do not form part of the estate.
For tenancy-in-common, upon the demise of one party, the surviving party do not inherit the demised party’s share of the asset. Also the share of the demise party goes to the estate.
It is very common for husband and wife to hold joint bank accounts. However, it is unclear whether such joint bank accounts are joint-tenants or tenancy-in-common because there is often no such choice when the account is opened. Normally the joint account type is either “Joint OR” or “Joint AND”. However, this is related to how the account is to be operated when both parties are still alive. It is a different scenario when one party has died. One particular bank in Singapore practices tenancy-in-common for its joint-accounts for saving deposits. Most people learn the hard way to find it out. It is better to get in writing from the bank whether such joint-accounts are tenancy-in-common or joint-tenancy. The manner which you ask the bank is important because bank staff may not even know the difference between both. If you wish to ask the bank, it is better to ask in this way: “For this joint account, if one party dies, will the bank allow the surviving account holder to withdraw the entire money without Letters of Administrations or Grand of Probate?” Also, get all answers in writing.
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