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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Right of Survivorship


Term Definition Right of Survivorship - the right of joint owners to receive the otherís share of property upon the death of the other owner.
Application in Divorce Right of survivorship works by operation of law.

Unless they have negotiated otherwise, separated spouses retain the rights of survivorship during the period between the initiation of divorce and final decree.

A joint tenancy carries with it the right of survivorship. The deceased tenant’s interest in an asset pass to the other tenants, not to his or her heirs and beneficiaries.

A married couple who had owned the marital home as tenants by the entirety, which carries with it the right of survivorship, own it as tenants in common when they divorce. By operation of law, tenancies by the entirety revert to tenancies in common upon divorce. Tenancies in common do not carry with them the right of survivorship.

Bank accounts in the names of two adults -- for example, a husband and wife -- normally carry with them the right of survivorship.

Dower and curtesy, respectively, refer to the common-law right of a spouse to her husband’s or his wife’s estate in the absence of a will. Both of these doctrines have been abolished or substantially altered in most jurisdictions.

See also Dower and Curtesy; Tenants in Common; Tenants by the Entirety; Tenants with the Right of Survivorship.

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