In Michigan, a person jointly owns property in one of four ways: Tenants in Common, Joint Tenants, Joint Tenants with Full Rights of Survivorship, and Tenants by the Entireties.
Tenants in Common
Two or more individuals who are not married and are not trustees to an estate are generally considered tenants in common (unless there is language that states otherwise). With tenants in common, each person owns a percentage interest in the property that he or she can sell, transfer, or bequeath to another person.
With joint tenancy, each person shares possession of the entire property and is entitled to undivided shares. Joint tenant owners are not married.
Joint Tenants with Full Rights of Survivorship
When joint tenants have rights of survivorship, the property share of one co-tenant is transferred to the other co-tenant upon death, meaning the living owners gain ownership of the deceased owner’s share.
Tenants by the Entireties
This type of joint tenancy is reserved for married couples. Under Michigan law, the spouses own the property as an individual entity. This type of tenancy acts like a joint tenancy, meaning if a spouse dies, the living spouse takes over ownership of the property.
In Michigan, joint owners of property may file a lawsuit to partition the property. A partition lawsuit forces the court to divide the property, or sell the property and divide the sale proceeds between owners. Any joint tenant or tenant in common may sue for partition of the property.
A partition action is not an option for property owned by married couples or properties owned by a business. In these instances, the property should be divided through divorce action or under Michigan’s LLC or corporation acts.
Help is available
If you are a property owner involved in a dispute, the attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are ready to assist you. Please contact one of our attorneys for more information by calling 586-726-1000 or by visiting our website.