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Q&A: Question of Ownership

By: Adam Leitman Bailey

April 1st, 2014

Q: On the stock certificate for our co-op, it just lists “John & Jane Smith.” Does that mean we own it “tenants by entirety” or “tenants in common?” If we want “tenants by entirety,” do we need to have it re-issued to state so? —Stocking Up

A: “It depends on when you acquired ownership,” says attorney Len Ritz of the law firm of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C in Manhattan. “If it was after Jan 1, 1996, then the presumption is that a married couple takes ownership as tenants by the entirety, even if the stock certificate does not explicitly say so. So there is nothing you would need to do.

“If ownership pre-dates January 1, 1996, then your ownership is as tenants in common, and you would need to review the proprietary lease to determine whether the board has any right to withhold consent to a change in form of ownership.”

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