In general, joint assets are held in joint tenancy (with right of survivorship) or tenancy in common.
- A joint tenancy (with right of survivorship) is a form of ownership by 2 or more persons in which each person owns the whole asset. Real property held in joint tenancy is usually identified as such on the deed. Accounts, such as certificates of deposit, held in joint tenancy are usually identified by "or" on the account. For example, Mr. A or Mrs. A. For this example, either person may access the whole asset.
Upon death, the person's interest passes to the other joint owner(s). For example, when one of 2 owners of an asset held in joint tenancy dies, the surviving owner becomes the sole owner of the asset.
- A tenancy in common is a form of ownership by 2 or more persons in which each person owns an interest in an asset that is less than the entire value of the asset. In general, each person's legal interest is an equal share based on the number of owners. For example, 3 owners of an asset held in tenancy in common each have a 1/3 interest in the asset. In this example, count only 1/3 interest as belonging to each person.
Real property held in tenancy in common is usually identified as such on the deed. Accounts, such as certificates of deposit, held in tenancy in common are usually identified by "and" on the account. For example, Mrs. B and Mrs. C. For this example, neither person may access their 1/2 interest in the account without the consent of the other owner.
At death, the interest becomes a part of the deceased owner's estate. For example, when one of 2 tenants in common dies, the surviving owner still has only a 1/2 interest. The other 1/2 interest belongs to the estate of the deceased tenant in common. For this example, neither owner may access their 1/2 interest without the consent of the other owner.
Jointly Held Personal Property
Consider as available, the total amount of a jointly held nonexempt asset unless, the client verifies:
- the asset is a joint income tax refund (see PM 07-02-13); or
- the client does not have access to the asset; or
- the client's legal interest in the asset is less than the total value of the asset (e.g. property held in tenancy in common). In this situation use the verified amount; or
- the asset is held jointly with a client(s) of any HFS or DHS assistance program, other than SNAP benefits, in which case the client's share is an equal share of the equity value.
If the client claims that the asset or a portion of the asset is not owned by the client, require the following as proof of the client's ownership/interest in the asset:
- proof of who initially purchased or obtained the asset or opened the account; and
- proof of which person's assets were used and to what extent when the asset was first purchased, obtained, or the account first opened; and
- proof of who made any additional deposits, payments, or withdrawals; and
- proof that accessibility to the other joint owner's verified interest is changed. The client's accessibility may be changed by transferring the other holder's verified interest from the jointly held asset or by restricting the client's access to the portion of the asset not belonging to the client.
Treat the client's verified ownership as available.
If the client does not provide the needed proof, consider the entire amount of the jointly held nonexempt asset as available.
Changing the client's accessibility to the other joint owner's verified interest in the asset does not affect eligibility. Any transfer of the client's and/or spouse's ownership in the jointly held asset is subject to the asset transfer policy.
Jointly Held Real Property
Consider the client's legal interest in jointly held real property as a proportionate share based on the number of owners. For example, 4 owners of jointly held real property each have a 1/4 interest in the property. For this example, count only 1/4 interest as belonging to each person.
Treat the client's proportionate share of the equity value of the property as an available asset, unless the property is exempt or the client verifies that the property is not accessible. See PM 07-02-04 for policy regarding real property.
A change in the way real property is held is a transfer of an asset and is subject to the asset transfer policy (see PM 07-02-20).