What is a co-op?
Cooperative housing (commonly described by referring to an individual cooperative or “co-op”) is a type of homeownership. A co-op can be defined as a building that is owned by a corporation, whose shareholders are all of its inhabitants. When buying into a co-op, you’re not directly purchasing a parcel of property, you’re actually buying shares in a corporation that allows you to live in one of the building’s units via a contractual arrangement referred to as a “proprietary lease.” Although cooperatives are for-profit businesses, they do not exist to maximize profit. A cooperative ownership structure is common in large cities, like New York City and Miami. Below are four things you should do first when working through an estate that has a co-op.
Locate original stock certificate and lease. If you cannot find it, contact the building agent/management company for requirements to reinstate and ensure a smooth transfer (affidavit of lost documents? Surety bond? Eagle 9 policy?). You can also try to obtain copies from attorney who helped decedent purchase the co-op, if possible
Confirm how the decedent held title – tenants by entirety, joint tenants with rights of survivorship, tenants in common? This is important information to gather once you have the certificate or a copy of it.
Confirm with the number of shares owned by decedent withe the co-op management company and board even if you think you have the stock certificate, as sometimes there are subsequent stock purchases to acquire a larger space in the building.
If it was owned at one point by a married couple, did they purchase it before 1996? If the stock certificate does not list them as JTWROS, or “husband and wife,” then a New York State Estate Tax Release of Lien form is required.
Need more information? Read this informative article: Eagle 9 Policies, Co-ops, and Estate Administration