How should I title my house?
The answer to this question depends on if you are single, married, in a partnership, or otherwise plan to buy a home with another person. Multiple buyers have several options for how they can title their property, but single homebuyers only have one. While the distinction of a single vs. unmarried title may seem confusing, the following summary will hopefully clear up any uncertainty. If you have further questions, do not hesitate to contact Coover Law in Columbia, Maryland.
Single home buyers
A single person living alone will have what is called a sole ownership title on their home.
Multiple buyers (unmarried)
There are two qualities of title that multiple buyers can obtain if they are not married — joint tenants or tenants in common.
- Joint tenancy — This title features a right of survivorship where if one owner dies, the surviving individual receives their interest. You probably shouldn’t title your home this way if you want your interest to go to your family or children when you die.
- Tenants in common — Multiple owners can take a title as tenants in common whether they are related or not and whether their property is a house or not. Tenancy in common is an abstract term, but essentially it means that each person owns an undivided interest in the entire property. When each owner dies, that interest is their property and it passes to their heirs, either under the terms of their will or under applicable law. There is no right of survivorship, and the remaining partners do not get the deceased partner’s interest when they die.
Multiple buyers (married)
Married home buyers should title their house under tenants by entirety. This is a special quality of title with specific protections to the house against creditors. Under tenants by the entirety, when the first spouse dies, their interest automatically goes to the surviving spouse. This way, married homeowners can bypass estate or inheritance tax issues. A tenants by entirety deed is almost always the right choice for married couples, but there can be exceptions.
Unless you are buying a house while in a traditional marriage, it is a good idea to consult with your lawyer as well as the title company that is handling the transaction so that you can make the best decision on how to title your house. Fortunately, under most circumstances you can re-deed the property later to create a different quality of title, even if there is a mortgage on the property after you purchased it.
The home title process can be daunting — if you are struggling to sort through all the steps and intricacies, contact Coover Law in Columbia, MD today. Our experienced real estate attorneys have handled many home title cases in Howard County, Maryland and beyond, and we can handle yours.