Some property belongs to both husband and wife. It is recorded in both names, in entirety, (neither one can sell or otherwise dispose of the property, without the consent of the other.) When separated, compute each one’s equity in property jointly owned as one-half of the net real value of the property. Tenancy in entirety is dissolved by death of one of the parties or by divorce.
When property is owned by two or more persons other than husband and wife, or by a divorced couple, it is most often called tenancy in common. Each person’s share in the property is proportional to the total number of persons unless a different division is specified in the deed or will, if the property was acquired by inheritance. If three persons have tenancy in common in a piece of property, each normally owns one-third of the property. Each owner can sell or otherwise dispose of his/her share in the property without consent of the others, and his/her share at death is inherited by heirs. Such an arrangement is indicated in the deed or will by the words tenancy in common or share and share alike, a statement that the property is held jointly, or a statement that the owners have joint property.
Occasionally property owned by two or more persons (other than husband or wife) is held in joint tenancy. This means the property cannot be inherited by the heirs of the one who dies first but remains the property of the survivor. As long as both or all joint owners are living, the equity of each owner is the same as for a tenancy in common.
For individuals owning property by tenancy in common or joint tenancy, consider their equity in such property regardless of the fractional interest owned by each. Verify the individual’s ownership of fractional interest in the property at the time of approval or reinvestigation. As with other property, accept the claimant’s estimate of the value without obtaining an appraisal, provided the estimate is confirmed by judgment and knowledge of the value of similar property. If in doubt of the individual’s value estimate, request a special appraisal to determine the value of the fractional interest.
If a special appraisal is required and no appraiser can be located, document the efforts to secure an appraisal. The individual’s value can then be accepted.