What is the best way to hold title? There are many different angles to purchasing property and many decisions to make. One of the main decisions to be made is which method of holding title is the most applicable and appropriate for a particular parcel. Real Property can be owned by a single owner or by many owners and it is very important to understand the process in order to make a wise decision. Let’s take a look at the process.
Someone who owns a property by themselves is referred to an owner in severalty. When there is more than one owner of a property, title can be held as joint tenancy, community property, (with or without right to survivorship) or tenancy in common. With so many choices available, what is the best way to hold title? Here is a look at how each method is defined.
Joint tenancy is when two or more people hold title together with equal shares in the property. There is an automatic right to survivorship, meaning that if one of the joint tenants passes away, the interest in the property continues to the other joint tenants. This method is common among long term relationships without marriage. There are some married couples who prefer this method of holding title because of the automatic right to survivorship.
Community property is a method of holding title to manage assets that are acquired during a marriage. This method can only be held by persons that are married with assets that are purchased during the marriage. This would not apply to property acquired prior to marriage, proceeds from the sale of property prior to marriage, inheritance gifts received after the marriage or properties that both parties have agreed to be separate from community property. All Deeds must be signed by both parties to be community property.
Community property with right to survivorship would include that option like that of joint tenancy.
Tenancy in Common
Tenancy in common is when two or more persons hold title together but do not have to have equal shares. For example, one tenant could hold eighty percent while the second would hold twenty percent. This method of holding title is more common for investment properties with multiple share holders than it is for an owner occupied residence that has a single family home. This method could also work well for roommates who wish to purchase a property together but one or two of them have more money to come in with than the other. Parties who are interested in ways to hold title are advised to consult with an attorney or CPA to plan the best strategy.