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What Does Et Al. Mean on Real Estate Property Deeds?

Real estate property deeds can be complicated documents. They often pass property from multiple owners to multiple people or buyers, which means a lot of names can be involved throughout a long document.

Et al. is the short, legal way to imply every person on one side in a case or legal document. In a quitclaim deed or other property deed, everyone is working together to transfer the property, so there aren't really "sides." But in the eyes of the law, the property is still being transferred from one "side" to the other.

What Is Et Al. Short For?

This is a Latin phrase that is short for "et alia." It means "and others," and is commonly used in legal documents to reference the family or people involved.

Legal documents must list every person involved by using their first and last names one time. To reference the same group of people later in the document, the court accepts using et al., such as "Jones, et al." Et al. is commonly used to list multiple children as benefactors or grantees of the property.

What Does Et Al. Mean on a Legal Document?

The first name listed on the property deed is the name that will be used with the et al. phrase. For example, a deed might involve these people:

  • Terry Jones (parent and property owner)
  • Linda Jones (parent and property owner)
  • Scott Jones (child and benefactor)
  • Tom Singer (grandchild and benefactor)

Because the first person listed is Terry Jones, everyone listed after can be referred to as "Jones, et al." even though the last names may be different. To the courts, the phrase means "Terry Jones and others involved in the case."

Survivorship and Names on Deeds

Keep in mind that a property deed may list a specific name first, but that name could change to the surviving spouse at any time. If Terry Jones passed away, the deed would need to change to just Linda Jones as the property owner. The rest of the document could stay "Jones, et al." because Terry and Linda have the same last name.

If every benefactor passed away except for Tom Singer, and only Linda Jones was living, then the deed could still be "Jones, et al." Since this is not a criminal case, you would not see the deed listed as "Jones v. Singer." Most estate planning and real property documents amicably loop all people together as "et al."

What Do Et Ux and Et Vir Mean on a Deed?

Et ux is shortened Latin for "et uxor." This means "and wife." In our example above, it could say "Terry Jones, et ux." On the other hand, "et vir" is short for "and husband," so it might be "Linda Jones, et vir." You may come across these terms on property deeds along with the term et al.

What Does Et Al. Mean on a Deed?

If you see a property deed, you may notice your name is listed one time and then never again. This does not mean you are left out of the deed. Usually, it means that you are wrapped into the et al. phrase being used in the document.

Et al. refers to everyone who has an ownership interest in the property title. Having an ownership interest is called being "vested" in the title. If numerous people are passing their property on and numerous people are inheriting the property, then et al. could be used to summarize all the names.

How Do I Know If I Will Inherit Property?

The deed details how the property will be split up. If you will receive some of the real estate property, you are "entitled to shares."

If your name is not listed on the document at any point, then you may not be a benefactor of the property. Sometimes a parent can leave property to one child, and that child splits up the property with their siblings at a later date. This can be risky if there are family conflicts, but is legal to do.

Finding Out If You Are on the Property Deed

Some families may discuss deeds and property transfers together. Others may leave everything in a will that is not discussed.

If you are unsure about being listed on a deed, you can often find deeds from the county recorder, such as:

  • The Registry of Deeds in the county where the property owner lives
  • The Assessor's Office in the county where the property owner lives

These offices can give you a copy of the deed. Keep in mind that the paperwork may not be completed yet, or your parents may not file documents until later in life.

Issues With Inclusion on Property Deeds

If you are left off the deed, you can speak with your family about the issue. There are no legal rights that say someone has to give you property or money. However, some cases will let you challenge a will and try to change the outcome if you have a solid reason.

If you do not understand what is on a property deed, an attorney is the best person to help you. A lawyer focused on property law is trained in reading these complicated documents. They will know what the deed means and can outline the property you will or won't receive.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified estate planning attorney to help with the probate process.

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