When you purchase property in San Diego County, you will have to specify how you are going to hold title. Title is the evidence that you are the owner. The form of ownership is called “vesting”. The escrow company will ask you how you want to hold title so the deed to your new property can be prepared. Here are some of the more common forms of holding title.
When you hold title as the sole owner, you own the entire interest. Usually sole ownership is for single individuals. A man or woman who has not been married may hold title as “John Doe, a single man.” A man or woman who was previously married but legally divorced might hold title as “Jane Doe, an unmarried woman.” If you are married and want to take title in your name alone, your spouse must relinquish all interest in the property since real property conveyed to a married couple in California is presumed to be community unless otherwise stated. Title in that case might read “John Doe, a married man, as his sole and separate property.”
Joint Tenancy This form of ownership occurs when two or more individuals, who may or may not be married, want to own property together in equal interests. With joint tenancy with right of survivorship, when one joint tenant dies, the other joint tenant becomes the owner of the property by operation of law rather than the property passing to the deceased joint tenant’s heirs. As an example, title could read “John Doe and Jane Doe, husband and wife, as joint tenants.” Many couples who purchased property years ago may be holding their property in joint tenancy.
Tenancy in Common Tenants in common are two or more owners who own an undivided fractional interest. As an example, one owner may have a 1/3 interest and the other a 2/3 interest in the property. Two owners may each own ½. Each owner can use and enjoy the entire property and each owner may sell or give his interest away or leave it to someone else upon their death. An example is “John Doe, an unmarried man, as to an undivided 1/3 interest and Jane Doe, a single woman, as to an undivided 2/3 interest, as tenants in common.”
Community Property If you are a married couple, you may hold title as community property. In California real property conveyed to a married man or woman is presumed to be community property unless otherwise stated. Each spouse has a ½ interest in the property and may leave that interest to the other spouse or anyone else. Title would be held as “John Doe and Jane Doe, husband and wife, as community property.”
How you hold title can have important legal consequences. When you create a living trust, you should put your home and any other real property in the name of the trust. If you have any questions about how to hold title in your situation, you may call us or e mail us with questions. At Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation we can also assist you with the preparation of a living trust package, including trust transfer deeds.