Title Matters - How Registering your Title Can Affect your Estate Plan
By Jenna Lalani, Vancouver Family Lawyer, Estate Planning Lawyer and Certified Legal Coach
Buying a new home with your partner or spouse? Purchasing a house with friends as an investment? Have you ever considered what would happen to your share of the property if something were to happen to you or your relationship?
How you protect your interest in your property is of critical importance and has to do with how you register your interest on title. There are two ways to register a title of a property: Tenants in Common or Joint Tenants. Both differ and have very adverse effects on your estate.
TENANTS IN COMMON
A person who owns property with one or more parties and their share would not pass to the survivors but to their own estate upon death.
Let’s say John and Janet are tenants in common. John passes away and his Will names his brother James as his beneficiary. James inherits John’s share and now Janet and James own the property together.
There are instances where people purchase property with their friends or spouse and there is an unequal contribution towards the property. Registering as tenants in common protects your share and can pass your contribution down to your intended beneficiaries. You would be able to register as a 60% owner (or in accordance with your contribution) and therefore ensure that your share of the interest is passed on through your estate.
Given that the deceased’s share would fall to the estate, it is subject to probate fees (tax paid to the government based upon the total value of your estate – approximately 1.4% of the total value of total property).
A person who owns property jointly with one or more parties which would pass to the others registered as their survivor upon death.
In this example, John and Jane are joint tenants of a property. John passes away and Janet becomes the sole owner of the property by surviving him.
If you register as a joint tenant, you cannot name a beneficiary in your Will to inherit your property. You have an equal share in the property, and it becomes the others’ share in the event of your death. The survivor, being the other(s) registered on title who jointly own the property, will automatically inherit the property. This would prevent probate fees as the deceased’s share does not fall to the estate. Your estate plan would not be able to name a beneficiary for your share of the property as your title holds the utmost authority. How the title is registered is how your interest in the property passes on and you cannot outline a different beneficiary in your Will if you are registered as joint tenants.
Buying property is one of the biggest purchases you will make in your lifetime and you will want to ensure that your property is protected for the long term. How your title is registered will affect your estate plan, but it could also affect your interest in family law during your lifetime. Couples should strongly consider putting a cohabitation agreement in place to set out how each person’s share were to be divided in the future if necessary.
At Crossroads Law, we can help you ensure that your share of your property is well protected. We recommend contacting our team of experienced family and estate planning lawyers prior to your new purchase. Book your complimentary 20-minute consultation today.