Titling Decisions When You Transfer Real Property Title
When considering how to transfer real property title in California, you must first decide how you would like to hold title upon transfer. There are many ways to hold title to property in California. As a result, it is important to understand the legal consequences of each form of title. The following brief descriptions will help you to understand the more common ways of holding real property title.
If you are single, you may hold real property in sole ownership. If a married person takes the title to property in his/her name alone (sole ownership), the spouse will usually have to sign a quit claim deed giving up any ownership rights in the property.
Tenants in Common
When two or more people take real property title as tenants in common, they are taking title to the real estate as co-owners. Each tenant in common will own a specified interest percentage in the property. The percentage of ownership interest does not have to be equal. The deed should specify the percentage of ownership. When no percentage is indicated, the parties are assumed to each own an equal share. For example, if three people take ownership, their share would be assumed as each having a 1/3rd interest. If four people take ownership, each person’s share would be 25%. Therefore, if the parties will have an unequal interest in the property, it is imperative that each owner’s share is properly designated.
Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship
When you transfer real property title to owners as joint tenants with the right of survivorship, all the co-owners must take title at the same time. When parties have title as joint tenancy with right of survivorship, they will each own equal shares. If a party dies, the remaining surviving co-owner(s) will succeed to own the entire property. This means that after a joint tenant dies, the surviving tenant(s) will automatically receive the decedent’s share. The form of title overrides any conflicting gift of real property interest referenced in the will of a joint tenant who has died. Married couples usually take title as joint tenants with the right of survivorship.
Real estate acquired during marriage can be held as community property. Each spouse will own one-half of the property. The property can be passed on to the surviving spouse or another person through a will. Read this article for more information about the differences between spouses holding property as joint tenants and spouses who hold property as community.
One of the best ways to hold real property is in a revocable living trust. Holding real property in trust helps avoid probate expenses. Upon death, the property is transferred to the trust beneficiary.
How to Transfer Real Property Title in California
In California, the two most common documents used to transfer real property title include a grant deed or quitclaim deed. A grant deed transfers a specified percentage of ownership in property. The grant deed assures the buyer receives valid title to the property and that there are no hidden owners or easements. On the other hand, a quitclaim deed transfers real property to another person without any warranties or guarantees.
Other types of deeds used to transfer real property title interest in California include a gift deed, an interspousal transfer deed, a trust transfer deed, and transfer-on-death deed.
Transfer of Real Property Title, Transfer Tax and Reassessment
A transfer tax can be assessed when real property is transferred in California. A transfer tax is similar to a sales tax and is due at the time of transfer. Sometimes, however, a party can claim a transfer tax exclusion which avoids having to pay a transfer tax when they transfer real property title. In addition, some title transfers can also trigger a property reassessment. When you transfer real property title in California, some title transfers may avoid triggering a property reassessment by claiming a reassessment exclusion.
Contact A People’s Choice if you need information or help to transfer real property title in California. Not only can we prepare the forms you need to transfer real property title, we may be able to help you avoid paying unnecessary transfer taxes and reassessment fees.
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