When property is owned jointly in a tenancy in common, an owner’s heirs receive the owner’s interest in the property when the owner dies. In contrast, when property is owned jointly as a joint tenancy with right of survivorship, the other owners in the joint tenancy proportionally receive the owner’s interest in the property when the owner dies.
The reason for the distinction is that “[a] joint tenancy is based on the theory that together the joint tenants have but one estate.” Longacre v. Knowles, 333 S.W.2d 67, 70 (Mo. 1960). Section 445.420, RSMo governs the creation of a joint tenancy for real estate; it specifically provides, in part, that “[e]very interest in real estate granted or devised to two or more persons…shall be a tenancy in common, unless expressly declared in such grant or devise, to be in joint tenancy.”