Property Interest Law and Legal Definition

Property interest refers to the extent of a person's or entity's rights in property. It deals with the percentage of ownership, time period of ownership, right of survivorship, and rights to transfer or encumber property. Some of the types of ownership interests of real property include:

Life Estate - A life estate is where a person owns all the benefits of ownership in the property during their life, or the life of another, with the property going to a remainder person after the death of the life tenant.

Tenants in Common - This is how two or more people (co-tenants) may take title to property who intent their share in the property to be separate from the other on death. On the death of the tenant in common the deceased persons ownership in the property is left to his or her heirs or as specified by Will. Compare to Joint Tenants. If tenant in common ownership is desired the deed usually provides, "to Grantees, A and B, as tenants in common and not as joint tenants".

Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship - This is how two or more persons may take title to property when the parties want the entire ownership to go to the survivor instead of the heirs of the survivor. On death of a joint tenant with rights of survivorship, the entire interest of the deceased co-tenant goes to the surviving co-tenants. Compare to Tenants in Common. It is common for husband and wife to take title as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. If joint tenant with rights of survivorship ownership is desired, the deed usually provides, "to Grantees, A and B, as joint tenants with rights of survivorship and not as tenants in common".

Community Property - In community property states, special laws govern how property is owned between husband and wife.