The following four tenancies are used in the State of Hawaii. Please consult your attorney or accountant to determine which you should use.

Tenants by the Entirety - Essentially a "joint tenancy" but available only to husband and wife. Tenancy can be terminated only by a joint action of husband and wife.

Examples: Property owned by Harry and Joyce Liu, husband and wife

• Harry and Joyce must be legally-married.

• Also for parties with a registered reciprocal beneficiary relationship (parties who may not legally marry - such as two brothers, mother-daughter, two friends of the same sex - and who are not currently married to another person).

• Includes right of survivorship - upon death of Harry, interest passes to Joyce without probate proceedings.

• Child Support Liens against either spouse may not attach to the property. (Yasumura v. Yasumura 2006 Supreme Court Case

• Judgment liens against Harry, but not Joyce, do not attach to the property.
• Federal Tax Liens against Harry, but not Joyce , DO attach to the property.
• Neither Harry nor Joyce may sell, mortgage, etc. without the other’s consent.

Joint Tenancy - Title held equally by two or more individuals with the distinct object of survivorship. Any one tenant may convey away his interest.

Examples Property owned by Janet Chang, Suzy Jones, and Linda Ortega :

• Janet , Suzy, and Linda’s interests in the property must be equal – each has a 1/3 interest.

• A lien against Linda is a lien against her 1/3 interest in the property only; upon Linda’s death, that lien is ineffective as to the property.

• Janet does not need Suzy or Linda’s consent, nor does she need to give them notice, if she ( Janet) wishes to sell her interest in the property to others.

• Includes right of survivorship – meaning, upon death of Suzy Jones, her interest in the property passes to Janet and Linda without probate proceedings. Tenancy in Common - An estate or interest held by two or more persons each having equal rights of possession and enjoyment but without any right of survivorship between the owners. Percentage interest for each person must be specified.

Examples: Property owned by Tom James (2/3 interest) and Fred Johnson (1/3 interest)

• No right of survivorship between the co-tenants - upon death of Fred, his 1/3 interest goes to his heirs or devisees through probate proceedings.

• A lien against Tom is a lien against only his 2/3 interest in the property.

• Tom may sell, mortgage, etc. his interest without Fred’s knowledge or permission. Severalty – Sole ownership.

Examples: Property owned by John Smith
• Liens against John are liens against his property, and will continue to attach after John’s death.
• Upon John’s death, his interest passes to his heirs or devisees through probate proceedings.
Examples provided by Title Guaranty of Hawaii Click here for their PDF docmentation of Tenancy


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