Please note that the following information is not legal advice, but rather a simple explanation of different ways to own property. If you need help, feel free to reach out to me directly at email@example.com.
The first way to own property is called sole ownership. It means that one person, either a man or a woman, owns 100% of the property, except for any debts attached to it. However, sole ownership can be a bit more complicated than it sounds. If you’re not married, you can hold sole ownership as an unmarried man or woman, or as a single man or woman. Some people say that there’s a difference between unmarried and single, but there’s no official documentation to support this. So, it’s best to consult with a professional if you encounter this situation.
If you’re married but want to own property separately, you can have sole and separate ownership. The laws regarding this vary between states. In some states, called community property states, everything acquired during the marriage is considered community property, but you can still own property separately if it was owned before the marriage, purchased with separate money, inherited as separate property, or specified in a prenuptial agreement. However, if you mix separate and community assets, the property can become community property. If you’re married and want to keep your ownership separate, it’s a good idea to consult an attorney who knows the laws in your state.
In community property states, there’s another way to hold title, called community property. This is a type of joint ownership for married couples in those states. Anything acquired during the marriage using marital assets is generally considered community property, meaning both spouses own 50% each. Even property owned separately before the marriage can become community property if you transfer it using a quitclaim deed or unintentionally mix it with community property. Community property states include Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Joint tenancy is another way to hold property where multiple parties have an equal and undivided ownership stake. This can be used by married couples in states that don’t have community property laws, and it’s also available in community property states. Joint tenancy is not limited to married couples; any two or more people can become joint tenants. One advantage of joint tenancy is that if one owner passes away, their share automatically goes to the other owners. It’s important to check the laws in your state to see if joint tenancy suits your needs.
Tenants in common is another way to hold property jointly. Like joint tenancy, it allows multiple parties to have an undivided interest in the property, but there are no rights of survivorship. If one tenant in common dies, their share of the property goes to their heirs through a will, trust, or intestate laws. This form of ownership is often used by non-married partners in real estate investments, and each tenant in common can have a different ownership percentage.
Tenancy by the entirety is a form of joint ownership available to married couples. In this case, each spouse owns the entire property, not just a portion. Neither spouse can sell any part of the property without the other’s consent. One benefit of this type of ownership is that if one spouse has debts, the property is protected from creditors as long as the other spouse is alive. When one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse becomes the sole owner without the need for probate. However, if one spouse becomes unavailable or unable to make decisions, selling the property can be challenging under this form of ownership.