You might think if you’ve seen one deed you’ve seen them all; it’s really just there to transfer property right? While that is true you might not realize that there are multiple ways you can hold title all depending on the wording of the deed. The way in which you hold title, especially when multiple people are on title, can be very important. Each state has a default position for how multiple people on title hold property. In Georgia the default position is as Tenants in Common, we will get into exactly what that means in just a minute. Even though there is nothing wrong with holding title as Tenants in Common there are other more advantageous ways to hold title. Since we are just talking about wording in the deed, making sure you hold title in the most advantageous way possible carries no cost as long as you’re savvy and know what wording to request.
When you hold title with other people a very real concern is, “What happens if the other title holder dies?” .Knowing what language to look for in the deed can save you time, trouble and most importantly money. This gets us to the point of this blog post, when you hold title with others look for the words, “as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship” after your name on the deed. These 7 words will do more for you than you think. When title is held as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship and a title holder dies their portion immediately and automatically transfers to the remaining living title holder, no additional action and more importantly no probate required. See the examples below; it’s a very subtle difference that carries major consequences:
When title is held as Tenants in Common and a title holder dies their interest in the property must be probated before you can sell, refinance or otherwise take action to modify the property. If don’t want your interest to pass automatically and you would prefer your estate be probated Tenants in Common is the way to go. Practically though that means you will not be able to transfer or modify the deed to the property until probate of the estate is complete. On average the probate of an estate takes anywhere between 3 months if amicable to several years if it is contested and the cost can be anywhere between 1-5% of the estate’s total value; in short it’s a process you do not want to be wrapped up in if you don’t have to be. Very often issues where a title holder has died come to light after a contract for the sale of a piece of property has been signed or near the end of a refinance. The requirement that a property be probated can easily derail a sale or put the breaks on a refinance.
So be smart when you close, the attorney should draft your deed using the Joint Tenants language but they don’t always especially when their deeds are auto-generated by software. It’s your investment, make sure you protect it! If you have questions about your title is held please feel free to call the office, we will be happy to review your situation with you.