by Phoenix attorney Christopher A. Combs, partner with Combs Law Group, P.C.

Question: Before my husband and I were married we purchased a one-acre parcel of land in the New River area. We took title as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship. Inasmuch as both of us are getting older, we are not sure if we did the right thing in taking title as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship. Although we have no children together, both of us have children from prior marriages. My concern is that, because this land is now very valuable, these children from our prior marriages could cause legal problems when one of us dies. What are your thoughts?

Answer: If you and your husband own this one-acre parcel of land as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship (” JTWROS”), upon the death of the first spouse, the surviving spouse will be the sole owner of this one-acre parcel of land. This ownership as JTWROS will take precedence over any will to your children which would provide to the contrary. For example, if you and your husband had provisions in your wills giving all of your assets to your respective children, any such provisions in the wills would not prevent the surviving spouse from being the sole owner of the one-acre of land in New River. You should consider, however, transferring the ownership of the land from JTWROS to Community Property with Right of Survivorship (” CPWROS”) since you are now married. The benefits of CPWROS are that both spouses must agree to any conveyance of the property and, upon the death of the first spouse, taxes may be reduced when the surviving spouse sells the property.