If you’re buying a home, one of the many decisions you’ll have to make come closing time is how to take title to the property. What does this mean? It has to do with tenancy. Sole ownership, joint tenancy, and tenancy in common are all ways to take title to a property. Each have different implications as far as your personal interest in the property, taxes, and estate considerations. It’s important to note that there’s no “best” way to take title to a property. The tenancy you choose should fit your situation and your needs as an individual or spouse. In this week’s blog, we’ll talk about some of the more commonly used ways to take title to a property.
Taking Title to a Property
If you’re unmarried and purchasing a property on your own, this is the only way to take title to the property. You are the sole owner of the property.
Joint tenancy is commonly used by married and unmarried couples in taking title to a property. In joint tenancy, all owners have an equal share in the property. This means that if two people buy the property, each individual has half the interest in the property.
Joint tenancy comes with the right of survivorship. This means that if one owner passes away, their interest in the property is conveyed to the other owner. This interest is not probated, which makes the transfer immediate on the death of the first party.
Tenancy in Common
Tenancy in common is another way of taking title when multiple people are buying a property. Each person has an interest in the property, though these interests do not necessarily have to be equal. One party may have two-thirds interest while the other may have one-third, for example. A party with an interest in the property may transfer this interest during life or in his or her will. The recipient of this interest will become a tenant-in-common with the other owners of the property.
Tenancy by the Entirety
Maryland is one of the few states that still allows tenancy by the entirety. Unless stated otherwise on the deed, the state will presume that you and a spouse hold title via tenancy by the entirety.
The goal of tenancy by the entirety is to offer protections against creditors that tenancy in common and joint tenancy do not offer. This is because the owners own the property as one unit, not two people. Here’s an example of how this works.
Let’s say one owner of the property is in debt to a creditor and has not paid. The creditor may want to place a lien against the property. If the property is titled under joint tenancy or tenancy in common, the creditor may do so. But if the title is held as tenancy by the entirety, the creditor would not be able to do so.
There are several things that are important to note here. First, this only applies if the debt is held by an individual owner. If it’s a joint debt, the creditor may seek a lien. Second, this immunity is not as strong as it used to be. You can read our blog about tenancy by the entirety in Maryland for more information.
To learn more about property titles and tenancy, contact Colony Title Associates today at 410-884-1160 or visit our website.