How to determine who should hold the title of your home

Dec 15, 2017

Many first time home buyers do not understand that they have options in assigning their property ownership, or that it is important to be strategic about who holds the title of a home.

Ownership over the title of a property means that the homeowner(s) have rights to the property and have the right to pass on ownership after their passing.

Title ownership basics

Title is a legal term meaning registered owner of a property. If you have purchased a home, one of the tasks your lawyer will complete is the transfer of the title of the property. Their duty is to assign the new ownership.  

Here you have a number of different choices of ownership. You have the option to name yourself alone, or add fellow investors- a fellow tenant or your spouse, for instance.

When you have multiple people on a title

If you choose to have two title owners, you can register either as “joint tenants” or “tenants in common.” There is a clear distinction between each option, and you will need to decide which is best based on your own situation.  

Joint tenants translates to joint ownership, where if one owner passes the other will hold full ownership. With joint tenancy, only the last surviving owner can the leave property to someone. Joint tenancy is a popular choice for married and common law couples.

Tenants in common have the opportunity to leave their share of the property to whom they wish. Tenants in common do not transfer half of the ownership between each other, and instead they can determine which percentage each tenant owns.

If you are buying a house, during the closing day process you will have the chance to tell your lawyer how you want to assign the title of your home. If you are unsure of what the best option is for your personal situation, you can consult your real estate lawyer at this time. They can explain how specific ownership may affect your rights, taxes and other factors. To learn more about what happens during closing, click here and to speak to a real estate lawyer about guiding the purchase of your next home.