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Ways to Title Property in Residential Real Estate

Sole Ownership

Is the simplest form of real estate ownership.  It is generally held by unmarried individuals or married individuals who wish to assume sole title in non-homestead real property.

While Sole Ownership provides owners with the most simplistic option for solitary ownership of a piece of residential real estate, it lacks any tax or estate planning benefits.  For instance, when a sole owner passes away, the solely owned property remains subject to delays due to having to go through the probate process and, consequently, increased costs.

 Tenancy in Common

Tenancy in Common is used when two or more individuals, who are not married to each other, take title to real property. Each Tenant in Common owns an undivided interest in the property.

Since there is no right of survivorship in this form of ownership, one of the main advantages of owning real property in this manner is that each Tenant in Common may pass his or her interest in the property by Will to whomever they choose.  This also leads to the greatest disadvantage:  Tenants in Common may end up co-owning property with complete strangers.  Consequently, if the tenants ever found themselves at odds as to the property, one party may bring a partition lawsuit to sell the property.

 Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship

Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship provides an alternative option to Tenancy in Common.  It is often used among close family members who desire to keep the ownership interest in the property within the family.

Advantages:

-Title vests immediately in the survivor upon the death of either Joint Tenant.  A death certificate ordinarily is the only document needed to clear title.
-The surviving Joint Tenant acquires good title without the expense of probate proceedings.
-Ancillary administration as to property in another state may be avoided.

Disadvantages:

-The person who creates the Joint Tenancy gives up sole control of the property.
-The surviving Joint Tenant may not have been the intended beneficiary.

Tenancy by the Entirety

Tenancy by the Entirety ownership of real property can only be created between individuals who are married to each other at the time the property is acquired. In this case, each spouse holds an equal and identical interest as the other that cannot be severed so long as both spouses are alive and remain married.  Like Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship, each spouse’s interest passes to the other upon death.

Creditors of one spouse alone may not attach to the property.  If the spouses ultimately divorce, thereby destroying the main factor needed for Tenancy by the Entirety, then the parties are considered to own separate, but undivided interests in the subject property, like Tenants in Common.