There are three ways in Ohio that couples can hold property. Why does it matter?
The form in which you hold property affects how you can transfer the property, what happens to it at your death, what happens if one of two property-holders dies or wants to sell his or her portion. You should know how you hold property so you can change the type of deed you have for your specific reasons. Do you want the other owner to get your share if you die, or do you want your kids to get it? Do you want to transfer your share to the other owner outside of probate? Do you want to transfer your share of the property to your spouse at your death only?
Get out your deed, or get onto your county recorder’s website and find your deed online. Does it state:
1. “George Burns and Gracie Allen, Husband and Wife”? If no manner of title is stated, in Ohio the form of ownership will be presumed to be tenancy in common. Each person owns an undivided fractional interest in the property. They can own equal or unequal shares. When an owner dies, that person’s share must go through probate, and is then transferred according to his or her will.
2. “George Burns and Gracie Allen, joint tenants with rights of survivorship…” The magic word is survivorship. If the deed is a survivorship deed, then on the death of one owner, that owner’s share passes outside of probate to the other owner. For a couple whose largest asset is their house, and few other assets that would need probated, having a survivorship deed could result in avoiding probate.
3. What if George owned property and wanted to have the property pass to Gracie at his death, but for any number of reasons didn’t want her to have a present interest in the property? George could have a transfer on death affidavit prepared (and recorded). He would name Gracie in the affidavit to receive the property at his death.
If you want to avoid probate, be sure your deed has survivorship language or you record a transfer on death affidavit. Why make your heirs go through the probate process if they can avoid it?
To change the form of ownership you have with your property, contact me to decide the best form of ownership for your situation, and to prepare and file a deed if necessary. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.