Washington Law Review


The public demand in Washington which led to the adoption of the joint tenancy initiative is not surprising in view of the widespread use of this form of title in other states. However, Washington is still a community property state and the people's desire for joint tenancy with its popular survivorship feature does not necessarily indicate their intention to change the community property system. Laymen will commonly use community funds to buy property and will now take title in joint tenancy, fully hoping to have some of the advantages of each. This practice has led to a deluge of litigation in California and some in other states, and will undoubtedly give rise to problems in Washington. Laymen usually select the joint tenancy form of title because of its survivorship feature, with no thought given to tax consequences or problems rising on severance or divorce or even to the matter of treating creditors and other beneficiaries fairly. Taking title to property in both names has a strong emotional or psychological appeal. People do not realize that except for very small "no tax" situations the work of the lawyer and the resulting expense is just as great if property is in joint tenancy as if it is in some other form. Before examining the problems surrounding the interrelation of community property and joint tenancy, it is first necessary to examine a few of the more important joint tenancy characteristics and contrast them with community property rules.

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