There are different types of real property ownership in California mainly divided into sole ownership and coownership. There are several variations as to how title is held in each type of ownership. The following are the seven most common examples of sole and co-ownerships:
- A Single Man/Woman: A man or woman who are not legally married.
- An Unmarried Man/Woman: A man or woman that have been married and is legally divorced.
- A Married Man/Woman as her or his sole and separate property: When a married man or woman who wishes to acquire title in his or her name alone, they must receive their spouse’s consent by Quit Claim Deed or otherwise, to transfer thereby relinquishing all rights, title and interest in the property.
- Joint Tenancy: Is one owned by two or more persons in equal shares, by a title created by a single will or transfer, when expressly declared in the will or transfer to be a joint tenancy. A chief characteristic of joint tenancy property is the right of survivorship. When a joint tenant passes away, title to the property immediately vests in the survivor or surviving joint tenants. As a consequence, joint tenancy property isn’t subject to disposition by will.
- Tenancy in Common: Under tenancy in common, the coowners own undivided interests. Unlike joint tenancy in this type of co-ownership the interests need not be equal in quantity or duration. There is no right of survivorship; each tenant owns an interest that upon his or her death is vested to the legal heirs or devisees.
- Community Property: is one acquired by husband and wife or either during marriage. Real property conveyed to a married man or woman is presumed to be community property, unless otherwise stated. Under community property, both spouses have the right by will, to dispose of one half of the community property. If a spouse does not exercise his/her right to dispose of one-half to someone other than his/her spouse, then the one-half will go to the surviving spouse without administration. If a spouse exercises his/her right to dispose of one-half, that half is subject to administration in the estate.
- Community Property with Right of Survivorship: (Effective July 1st, 2001). Community property acquired by husband and wife, when expressly declared in the transfer document to be “community property with right of survivorship,” shall pass to the surviving spouse without having to first pass through the administration of the estate.
- Trust: Title to real property in California may be held in a title holding trust. The trust holds legal and equitable title to the real estate. The trustee holds title for the trustor/beneficiary who retains all of the management rights and responsibilities. How to hold title is not always a simple decision and your decision on how to hold title can have significant tax and legal ramifications down the road if you make the wrong choice. We recommend that you speak with your tax professional and/or estate planner prior to deciding how to take title to any real estate