Common Ways Of Holding Title

How Should I Take Ownership of the Property I am Buying? 

Real property can be incredibly valuable and the question of how parties can take ownership of their property is important. The form of ownership taken -- the vesting of title -- will determine who may sign various documents involving the property and future rights of the parties to the transaction. These rights involve such matters as: real property taxes, income taxes, inheritance and gift taxes, transferability of title and exposure to creditor’s claims. Also, how title is vested can have significant probate implications in the event of death. 

The Land Title Association (LTA) advises those purchasing real property to consider the way title will be held. Buyers may wish to consult legal counsel to determine the most advantageous form of ownership for their situation, especially in cases of multiple owners of a single property. 

The LTA has provided the following definitions of common vesting as an informational overview. Consumers should not rely on these as legal definitions. The Association urges real property purchasers to carefully consider their titling decision prior to closing, and to seek counsel should they be unfamiliar with the most suitable ownership choice for their particular situation. 

Common Methods of Holding Title 

SOLE OWNERSHIP 

Sole ownership may be described as ownership by an individual or other entity capable of acquiring title. Examples of common vesting in cases of sole ownership are: 

  1. 1. A Single Man/Woman: 

person who has not been legally married. For example: Bruce Buyer, a single man. 

  1. 2. An Unmarried Man/Woman: 

person who was previously married and is now legally divorced. For example: Sally Seller, an unmarried woman. 

  1. 3. A Married Man/Woman as His/her Sole and Separate Property: 

A married man or woman who wishes to acquire title in his or her name alone. 

(The title company insuring title will require the spouse of the married man or woman acquiring title to specifically disclaim or relinquish his or her right, title and interest to the property. This establishes that it is the desire of both spouses that title to the property be granted to one spouse as that spouse’s sole and separate property. For example: Bruce Buyer, a married man, as his sole and separate property. 

CO-OWNERSHIP 

Title to property owned by two or more persons may be vested in the following forms: 

1. Community Property: 

A form of vesting title to property owned by spouses during their marriage, which they intend to own together. Community property is distinguished from separate property, which is property acquired before marriage, by separate gift or bequest, after legal separation, or which is agreed to be owned only by one spouse. 

Real property conveyed to a married man or woman is presumed to be community property, unless otherwise stated. Since all such property is owned equally, spouses must sign all agreements and documents of transfer. Under community property, either spouse has the right to dispose of one half of the community property, including transfers by will. For example: Bruce Buyer and Barbara Buyer, husband, and wife as community property. 

  1. 2. Joint Tenancy 

A form of vesting title to property owned by two or more persons, who may or may not be married, in equal interest, subject to the right of survivorship in the surviving joint tenant(s). Title must have been acquired at the same time, by the same 

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