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How to hold title

Title to real property may be held by individuals, either in Sole Ownership or in Co-Ownership. Co-Ownership of real property occurs when title is held by two or more persons. There are several variations as to how title may be held in each type of ownership. The following brief summaries the more common examples of Sole Ownership and Co-Ownership.

If you are married but separated and you wish to purchase property you would hold title under your name as the "Sole and Separate" owner and your spouse will need to sign a form stating they have no claim to the property.

One of the most common types of ownership is joint ownership between a husband and wife. Often, the owners will have a right of survivorship. That simply means if one of them passes away, sole ownership automatically goes to the surviving spouse.

The four most common types of tenancy are:

Joint Tenancy - A form of property ownership by two or more persons in which the joint tenants have one and the same interest, arising by one of the same conveyance, commencing at one and the same time and held by one and the same posession. A distinctive feature of the joint tenancy is the right of survivorship by which the surviving joint tenant(s) succeeds to the interest of the deceased joint tenant. No probate proceedings are necessary.

Tenancy By the Entirety - A special joint tenancy between a lawfully married husband and wife or recipical beneficiaries, which places title to the property into the unit, with both tenants having an equal, undivided interest in the whole property. Upon the death of one tenant, the survivor succeeds to the entire property to the exclusion of heirs and creditors of the deceased tenant and without the need for probate. A tenancy by the entirety differs from a joint tenancy in that neither spouse can convey his or her interest or force a partition during the lifetime of the other, without the consent of the other spouse. It can only be severed by mutual agreement, divorce, serving the recipical beneficiary relatinship or joint conveyance.

Tenancy in Common - A form of concurrent ownership of property between two or more persons, in which each has an undivided interest in the whole property. Each co-tenant is entitled to the undivided possession of the property, according to his proportionate share and subject to the rights of possession of the other tenants. Their interests may be equal (as in joint tenancy) or unequal. Where the conveyance document does not specify the extent of interest of each co-tenant, there is a presumption that the shares are equal. There is no rights of survivorship. Any tenant in common can sell his interest in the property without the consent of his co-tenants.

Tenancy in Severalty - Ownership of property vested in one person alone, and not held jointly with another, also called Several Tenancy or Sole Tenancy. When the sole owner dies the property is probated and passes to his heirs or devisee.

You should consider your exit stratagy of the property before you decide on how to hold title. Different ways of holding title have different advantages. If you have questions on how to hold title for your situation feel free to give me a call at 516-921-9000. You can also email

Do not rely on the recommendations by your mortgage broker or realtor. To be on the safe side, be sure to consult with an attorney if you are not sure how to hold the title.

If you are just dating someone, and not legally married, you can take title as "single (man) or (woman)". You will have the option to add the other party or not, depending on your personal preference.

For a small additional fee most closing attorneys can register changes to a deed at closing.

For more information regarding this topic, please call Mike Williams at 516-921-9000 or email