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.
Consider as available, the client's prorated share of a jointly held nonexempt nonliquid asset (e.g., vacation property), or the total amount of a jointly held nonexempt liquid asset (e.g., certificate of deposit), unless:
- the asset is a joint income tax refund (see PM 07-01-11) the client can verify that the value of their 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. Acceptable proof includes but is not limited to, bank records, trust records, signature cards, divorce papers, or court orders; or
- the asset is held jointly with a client(s) of any DHS assistance program, other than SNAP benefits, in which case the client's share is an equal share of the equity value; or
- the asset is inaccessible (See PM 07-01-03).
If the client claims that the asset or a portion of the asset is owned by someone else, require the following as proof of the other person's ownership of the asset:
- a statement by the client that includes: the reason the asset is held jointly, the name of the person making any deposits, payments, or withdrawals and how any withdrawn money or payments were spent; and
- a statement from the other owner of the joint account confirming the client's statement. If the other owner is under age 18 or judged incompetent, obtain a statement from a third party who knows the situation; and
- proof that the client's access to the asset was changed by removing their name or by restricting their access to the asset (not considered a transfer of assets).
If the client does not provide the needed proof, consider their prorated share of a jointly held nonexempt nonliquid asset, or the total amount of a jointly held nonexempt liquid asset as available.
When determining a possible overpayment where the joint asset no longer exists, do not consider the asset available to the client if the client and the other owner provide the ownership statements listed above.
When a jointly owned asset is sold, consider the client's prorated share of the asset, unless the client states that they received a different amount. Use the actual amount that the client says they received from the sale.