The Ways That A Couple Can Own Property

by Jacqui Brauman

There are a number of ways that a couple can be registered on a Certificate of Title, as the owners of real estate.

A lot of how a couple would choose to be registered as owners will depend on tax, and succession planning.

couple property

Joint proprietors

Primarily, the default way for a couple is to register them as joint proprietors. When a couple is registered on real estate on the Title as joint proprietors, it means they jointly own one hundred percent of the property together.

If something happens to one of them, the property automatically transfers to the survivor.

Tenants in common

The other way that you can register on Title as the owners is as tenants in common.

This is less common for a couple that’s in a relationship, and more common amongst other family members or people who aren’t related, if they buy property as an investment together.

You can be tenants in common in equal shares, or you can be tenants in common in a different percentage, and you can actually register the percentage on the title. Now, you might do this for tax purposes. For example, you want less income to be going to the person who already has a high income from their job, so you might put them on as 10% or 1% on the title, and the other spouse is 90% or 99%.

From a succession point of view, tenants in common means that you each own your percentage separate from the other person. So if one person passes away, when it’s owned as tenants in common, it means that the Will of that deceased person must be followed to actually transfer the half or the percentage of the person who’s passed away. The transfer doesn’t automatically happen, like joint proprietors. Instead, the property will be part of the deceased estate, and there would have to be a probate grant obtained to do the transfer. Probate can take a few extra months than it would otherwise, so succession is something to factor into the decision as to how to register on title as well as tax.
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