is joint tenancy best for married couple when buying a home?

Asked by Shelley Martin, Dunsmuir, CA Sat Aug 13, 2011

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Barbara Olsen, Agent, Lewiston, ID
Sat Oct 1, 2016
Hi, I think it is the best way to hold title for a married couple or even if your not married. My husband and I had Joint Tenancy on our home. When he passed away it so so simple to acquire the property in my name. All I had to do was provide a Death Certificate to the Title co. and they recorded the property in my name.
1 vote
Susie Kay, Agent, Dallas, TX
Sat Oct 1, 2016
That's a question that's best answered by an attorney and/or CPA, not realtors. Your attorney can discuss with you the legality aspect of each title and your CPA the tax consequences. You can select the title that suits you best depending upon what you are trying to accomplish and your current financial/family condition.

I hope this makes sense!
0 votes
Sher Miersem…, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Wed Mar 27, 2013
Hi Shelley, As already mentioned, talking with an Accountant or an Attorney is a good idea when discussing 'how to take ownership'.

In my opinion, as a real estate Broker, there are two main differences between "Joint Tenants" and "Community Property"

1) Wth Joint Tenants, you have the automatic 'right of surviorship', which means that if one spouse passes away, the property automatically goes 100% to the surviving spouse.
On the contrary, with Community Property, either spouse can pass his/her share of the title on to another person, (whether related to them or not) so it is not automatically passed to the spouse. There are ways that you may be able to add to the Comunity Property Title to get the 'right of survivorship', but you should check with an attorney for that, or some other professional that handles things like 'taking title to property'.

2) With Joint Tenants, only one half of the property's value is adjusted up to the home's current value, while the other half stays at the value that it had when purchased. With Communnity Property, both halves are adjusted up to the current value of the whole property. These adjustments are for 'income tax adjustments', and do not effect your sales PRICE if you should elect to sell the home. But the income tax adjustment could have an important impact on your taxes; therefore a tax accountant should be consulted.

So as you can see, each type has it's pros and cons. I hope this little attempt to spell out some of the ways Joint Title and Community Property differ. Please note that this is only my opinion, and that you really should get professional help with this type of property ownership. Please feel free to ask me anyother questions that you may have regarding real estate. I would love to answer them for you!

All answers in this forum are deemed reliable, but not guaranteed; Real Estate, Tax, and other rules and regulations change often.

SHER Miersemann 707-576-1234
0 votes
Terry Bell, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Sat Oct 15, 2011
Hi Shelley, just because you are married doesn't mean that you have the same issues as all other married folks, and that is why is is important to consult with the professionals on your team, and by that I mean, the financial team of advisors in your life. It's important to develop relationships with professionals who can give you advice, such as tax accountants, attorneys, financial planners, lenders, and of course realtors! I suggest starting with your accountants or tax attorney, and hope to be on your list of professional realtors to contact when you're ready! Best, Terry
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John Arendsen, Agent, Leucadia, CA
Sun Aug 14, 2011
As several other RE professionals have stated, Community Property is the best solution for a married couple.
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Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sat Aug 13, 2011

Most of our married clients take title as community property with right of survivorship, but you should discuss with your attorney and accountant. Here is a link to some information on this method of taking title:…

Best Regards,

Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
DRE# 01384425
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John Souerbry, Agent, Fairfield, CA
Sat Aug 13, 2011
While I agree with previous answers, I also suggest you ask your attorney about a living trust. Most attorneys say that you should never never never own property in your name, always use a trust. Ask your attorney if that applies to you.
0 votes
CJ Holmes, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Sat Aug 13, 2011
According to First American Title Insurance Company's guide to "Common Ways to Take Title to California Residential Real Property", joint tenancy seems to be the most common way for married persons or domestic partners to hold title.

In joint tenancy, according to First American's chart, ownership interests are equal, possession and control are equal, interests can be transferred separately but then a tenancy in common results, the co-owner's interest is not subject to the liens of the other owner but a forced sale can occur, the decedent's interest automatically passes to the surviving joint tenant (right of survivorship), but there may be tax disadvantages for spouses.

It's highly recommended you seek competent advice on this matter from your escrow officer, attorney and CPA. Agents and brokers are not certified to advise on this issue. I trust this quick recitation has been of help to you. cj
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Dot Chance, Agent, Burbank, CA
Sat Aug 13, 2011

Daphne is absolutely right. You need to speak with an attorney and/or estate planner. Vesting is definitely not a one-size fits all.

Dot Chance, Realtor®
Certified Distressed Property Expert – CDPE®
DRE License #01494182
Keller Williams Realty World Media Center

WHEN YOU THINK OF REAL ESTATE...Think! My business thrives from your referrals!
0 votes
Daphne Peter…, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Sat Aug 13, 2011
Hi Shelley,
As a mere real estate broker, I can't advise you on legal matters. However, I would suggest you ask your attorney to explain the benefits of "Community Property with Rights of Survivorship".
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