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Taking Title to Property With Multiple Owners

Posted by Anonymous

There are several common ways to take title to real estate when two or more parties are involved.  The most common, with regards to unrelated parties who are not married or domestic partners is as Tenants in Common.  The two other common ways to take title are as joint tenants with rights of survivorship or, for married couples depending on the state, they might take property by community property or tenancy by the entirety. 

Taking title in this manner is only available in some states.  It is available to married couples or in recognizing states, to domestic partners.  This form of taking title is similar to joint tenancy with regards to a significant factor: rights of survivorship.  Upon the death of one co-owner the entire property interest passes to the surviving owner.

A particular type of deed is not necessary to take title in any of the three ways described in detail below.  The deed you have chosen will simply specify how the co-owners intend to take title.

Tenants in Common

In many states, tenancy in common is the default for two or more individuals taking title to the same property.  Each tenant in common owns an individual share and has a right to possess the whole and they may own unequal portions of the property.  An owner of a share may transfer through, sale, gift or will or it will pass by intestacy, their own share and it does not disturb the other owners.  The new party becomes a tenant in common with the remaining owners.

Joint Tenants

Joint tenants own equal shares to property and like tenants in common, they have the right to possess the whole.  The major difference is that joint tenants have rights of survivorship.  The death of one joint tenant causes the entire property interest to pass to the other joint tenant or tenants.  However, a joint tenant may, during his lifetime, transfer his interest to a third party.  The affect of this transfer is that the transferee becomes a tenant in common with the remaining joint tenants.  If there were more than two joint tenants to begin with, the joint tenancy relationship between the non transferring owners is not disturbed with regard to each other, only with regard to the transferee.

Tenancy by the Entirety/Community Property

Taking title in this manner is only offered in certain states. Depending on the state either Tenancy by the Entirety or Community property may be available.  It is made available to married couples or in recognizing states, to domestic partners.  There are rules specific to Tenancy by the entiretey and community property.

In California, for example, when property is held as community property  and one spouse dies the other spouse will receive a one half share of the property.  The other one half share will pass according to the will of the deceased or by intestacy if there is no will. 


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