Title Matters: To Have and To Hold

Updated: May 9


If you are purchasing a home, you should be aware there are a couple ways you could hold title with another person. If you are working with an attorney on the transaction, they will probably ask at some point how you’d like to hold title. This is often referred to as ‘’vesting’’, or the manner in which title is held to real property.


This is very specific to everybody’s situation. Whether you are a married couple, engaged, parent/child, business partners or just friends, you can choose how to hold title with another individual or entity. There are many factors that play into deciding one type of vesting over another and legal counsel should always be sought out for the best option to best fit your needs.


The most common ways to hold title to real property between two (or more) people are the following:


1. Tenants in Common


If a deed is vested to two or more individuals as Tenants in Common, their ownership interests are not necessarily equal. These owners can Will their interest in the property to others and the property must be probated when one of them dies. The beneficiary named in the decedent’s will becomes the tenant in common with the other property owners. This form of ownership also allows each other their individual right to sell or pass their portion of the property separately to the other owners.


2. Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship


If a deed vests real property to two or more individuals as joint tenants with rights of survivorship (JTWROS), then they have taken title with equal shares and percentage interest in the property. If any of the vested individuals was to die, their interest is automatically passed equally to the other title holder(s).


3. Tenants by the Entirety


Tenants by the entirety is often how married couples hold title. Tenants by the entirety is similar to JTWROS because it includes the same death provision of passing to the other title holder upon death. Tenancy by the entirety permits spouses to jointly own property as a single legal entity and each spouse has equal, undivided interest in the property. If one spouse was to die before the other, the property would pass onto the surviving spouse without going through probate.


An attorney with experience in real estate and estates can give detailed explanation of the probate code and beneficiary rights in your state and the appropriate way to hold title to real property. An attorney can also ensure that your intentions speak clearly in how you hold property and advise on the best way to protect your interest.

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