The Nevada statutes identify three primary ways for two or more people to hold title to real property: tenancy in common, community property, and joint tenancy (NRS §§ 111.060, 111.063-065).
Tenancy in common is the default form of vesting title for multiple owners unless otherwise specified in the deed (NRS 111.060). With this form of ownership, each person possesses a separate percentage of the rights to the property, which may be sold or included in a will without breaking the tenancy. As such, the death of one tenant-in-common does not necessarily affect the status any of the surviving owners.
Joint tenancy NRS 111.065 covers the rules for creating joint tenancy. A defining feature of vesting this way is the right of survivorship – those who hold title to real estate as joint tenants share an undivided interest in the property, and if one owner dies, his/her property rights are distributed evenly amongst the survivors. If there is only one left, that person becomes the sole owner. Property owned this way is not subject to probate and cannot be passed by a will.
Community property is only available to married couples. As defined in NRS 123.220, all “property, other than that stated in NRS 123.130, acquired after marriage by either husband or wife, or both, is community property unless otherwise provided.” In addition, “neither spouse may sell, convey or encumber the community real property unless both join in the execution of the deed or other instrument by which the real property is sold, conveyed or encumbered, and the deed or other instrument must be acknowledged by both” (NRS 123.230).
Despite its strong attachment to marital assets, Nevada’s community property laws contain no inherent right of survivorship. Except as otherwise provided, if one spouse dies, an undivided one-half interest in the community property is the property of the surviving spouse as his or her sole separate property. The remaining interest is subject to the testamentary disposition of the decedent or, if the deceased spouse died without a will, his/her share goes to the surviving spouse subject to administration under the provisions of title 12 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS 123.250).
Even though the basic statutory definition of community property does not include the right of survivorship, it is a lawful vesting choice as long as it is written into the text of the deed. For example: “AB conveys to CD and ED, a married couple, as community property with right of survivorship.” In that case, the right of survivorship is equivalent to that of joint tenancy. See NRS 111.064. Each vesting choice has benefits and drawbacks. Contact an attorney for complex situations or with specific questions.