TN 47 (12-23)

SI 01110.510 Sole vs. Shared Ownership

A. Introduction

An individual may be the sole owner of real or personal property or may share ownership with one or more others.

B. Definitions

1. Sole ownership

Sole ownership of (real or personal) property means that only one person may sell, transfer or otherwise dispose of the property. However, sole ownership may be subject to conditions imposed by others as, for example, sole ownership of a remainder interest in property, see SI 01110.515.

2. Shared ownership

Shared ownership of (real or personal) property means that two or more people own it concurrently. For additional information regarding different types of shared ownership, see SI 01110.510C.

C. Descriptions of shared ownership

1. Tenancy-in-common

a. Owners do not have same interests

In tenancy-in-common, two or more persons each have an undivided fractional interest in the whole property for the duration of the tenancy. These interests are not necessarily equal; e.g., two tenants-in-common do not necessarily each own half of the property. One owner may sell, transfer or otherwise dispose of their share of the property without permission of the other owner(s) but cannot take these actions with respect to the entire property.

b. No survivorship rights

When a tenant-in-common dies, the surviving tenant(s) has no automatic survivorship rights to the deceased's ownership interest in the property. Upon a tenant's death, the deceased's interest passes to his or her estate or heirs.

c. Example

Don, Charles, and Fred Evans own property as tenants-in- common. Charles and Fred each owns an undivided one-fourth interest in the property while Don owns the remaining one-half interest. If Don Evans were to sell his half interest to Stanley Long, Mr. Long would become a tenant-in-common with Charles and Fred Evans. If Mr. Long were then to die so that his property passed to his four children, each of them would own a one-eighth interest as tenants-in-common with Charles and Fred who would each continue to own a one-fourth interest.

2. Joint tenancy

a. Each owner has same interest

In joint tenancy, each of two or more persons has one and the same undivided ownership interest and possession of the whole property for the duration of the tenancy. In effect, each owner owns all of the property.

b. Survivorship rights

Upon the death of one of only two joint tenants, the survivor becomes sole owner. On the death of one of three or more joint tenants, the survivors become joint tenants of the entire interest.

c. Conversion to tenancy-in-common

In most States, it is possible for joint tenants to take action during their lifetimes to convert the joint tenancy to a tenancy-in-common, see SI 01110.510C.1.

3. Tenancy by the entirety

a. Married couples only

A tenancy by the entirety can exist only between the members of a married couple. The wife and husband as a unit own the entire property which can be sold only with the consent of both parties. However, if a marriage has been legally dissolved, the former spouses become tenants-in- common and one can sell his or her share without the consent of the other.

b. Survivorship rights

Upon the death of one tenant by the entirety, the survivor takes the whole.

c. Example

An SSI beneficiary and spouse share ownership of a home in a tenancy by the entirety. The SSI beneficiary leaves the home on 3/20 and begins residing in a shelter for victims of domestic abuse. On 3/29, the CR obtains a statement either signed or recorded on a Report of Contact from the spouse verifying that will not grant permission to sell the home. Effective 4/1, the home will remain excluded from resource counting regardless of whether the undue hardship provisions apply. Since the SSI beneficiary does not have legal right to liquidate the home it would qualify as an asset that is not a resource. For further information regarding assets that are not resources, see SI 01110.115.

NOTE: The same policy may apply to a home owned in a joint tenancy depending on applicable state law and the specific circumstances surrounding the shared ownership (e.g. whether the owners convert the joint tenancy to a tenancy in common or otherwise sell their share).

D. Operating policy for shared ownership

1. General rule

With the exception noted below, we assume, absent evidence to the contrary, that each owner of shared property owns only fractional interest in the property. We divide the total value of the property among all of the owners in direct proportion to the ownership share held by each.

2. Exception: Checking/savings accounts and time deposits

For a joint checking or savings account or a jointly-owned time deposit, we assume that all of the funds in the account belong to the claimant(s)/ recipient(s), in equal shares if there is more than one claimant or recipient, see SI 01140.205B. and SI 01140.210B.

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SI 01110.510 - Sole vs. Shared Ownership - 12/05/2023
Batch run: 12/05/2023