Wednesday, November 26, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

How do we change our home to community property?

By
From page HMS2 | March 01, 2014 |

Q: When my husband, then my boyfriend and I purchased our home in 1990, we had the title on the deed listing us as Tenants-In-Common so that we could protect our individual interests in case we went our separate ways. We are now in 2014 and have been married for several years. How do we change from “Tenants In Common” to community property with right of survivorship? We both have relatives who would swoop in like vultures to put in a claim if either of us passed. I have children from previous marriages and my husband has none. Is this “title swap” done on our own, through a title company, or a lawyer?

A: That’s a good question. How to hold title to real estate is a mystery to most. I mean after all, how many times in one’s life do you have to make that decision?

Let me give you the simple answer first, and then I’ll explain for those readers who are interested.

All you have to do is execute a deed from you and your husband, as tenants in common, to you and your husband as community property with right of survivorship. Then go down and record it.

That’s it. Done.

You don’t need anyone special to help you do it. A lawyer or a legal document preparation company can do the paperwork for you or you can find a form grant deed and do it yourself. The important thing is to get the language correct so if one of you dies, the heirs don’t have to fight over how title was held.

Once again this column is far too short to delve into the finer points of how title to property should be held, but let me touch on the high points.

When only one person owns real estate, title is generally pretty simple. The deed says something like Sally Seller, a single woman, hereby grants to Bobby Buyer, a single man, title to 123 Main St.

Mr. Buyer then owns it. If he dies, whoever inherits his other stuff gets the house.

But when two or more people are co-owners of real estate, a decision has to be made. Sometimes that decision is for tax reasons, but more commonly it’s for the purpose of figuring out what happens to your ownership share when you die.

This methodology may seem antiquated, and it is, but we’ve inherited the general concept from real estate laws dating back to the early civilization of Europe.

For example, two or more people can own property as joint tenants.

In that event, when one person dies, his ownership interest is immediately divided among the remaining owners. As a consequence, the next of kin aren’t going to inherit the dead guy’s interest unless they were also the co-owners of the property at the time of his death.

For hundreds of years, families have put their eldest son on title as a joint tenant so when Mom and Dad dies the eldest son automatically owned it.

For those of you who follow “Downton Abbey,” you’ll recall they ran into that problem when what’s-his-name was killed in a car crash and they didn’t know if what’s-her-name, the daughter of the older patriarch guy, would inherit his share or it would go to the infant kid  . . . oh never mind.

Anyway, today, non-married couples often choose to hold title this way since it allows title to pass to the surviving person.

Then there’s tenants in common, undoubtedly the most common way of holding title.

With tenants in common, each co-owner maintains their separate interest. So if one owner dies, his interest is inherited by whoever his heirs are.

That can be distressing for the other owners who suddenly see, for example, the dead guy’s 33 percent interest go to four squabbling brat kids who each have a say in the management of the property.

Then of course there is community property.

In California, community property is reserved for married couples and for seniors who are registered domestic partners.

Classic community property provides for the inheritance of the surviving spouse, but with certain conditions if the deceased spouse has children not from the surviving spouse.

The relatively new community property with right of survivorship was designed to fill a gap between community property and joint tenancy for married couples and takes away some of the exceptions in community property inheritance.

There are also a pile of rules concerning each method of holding property, including whether an interest can be given by will, or sold individually.

There are also capital gains issues concerning the setting of the value of the property at the time the person dies, which differ from method to method.

And finally, for estate planning, liability or investment purposes a lawyer may advise holding title differently, like in the name of a trust.

So the answer to your question is simple. The issue, however, can be very complicated.

Tim Jones is a real estate attorney in Fairfield. If you have any real estate questions you would like to have answered in this column you can contact him at SolanoScene @TJones-law.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

     
    Groups distribute Thanksgiving food

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

     
     
    County fair proposal, budget topics of scrutiny

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

    Police: Vehicle burglaries not new for Fairfield

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Vacaville PD seeks VIPS program volunteers

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

     
    Fairfield police offer free gun locks

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

     
    Fairfield police investigate shooting

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

     
    Library schedules soap-making program

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

     
    Science comes to libraries – for all to see

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

    Soroptimists seek award applicants

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

     
     
    Nichols plans free family concert in Napa

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

    Church’s holiday soiree on Vacaville calendar

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

     
    Fairfield police log: Nov. 23, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

     
    Fairfield police log: Nov. 22, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

    Suisun City police log: Nov. 23, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 2 Comments

     
    Suisun City police log: Nov. 22, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

    Suisun City police log: Nov. 24, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

     
    Weather for Nov. 26, 2014

    By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

    .

    US / World

     
    Anger at Ferguson case based on emotion, evidence

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 11 Comments

    Tough to make a case against police in shootings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 8 Comments

     
    Protesters return to riot-scarred Ferguson streets

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 8 Comments

    In Seattle, tofu turkeys get Thanksgiving pardons

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

     
    Los Angeles freeway sign unveiled with typo

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Heirloom ring flushed; sewer workers retrieve it

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Ohio family recovers missing Sasquatch statue

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Auction fetches $28K for 1st batch of new bourbon

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Agreement: LA jails to improve wheelchair access

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Window washer fights for life after 11-story fall

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Lawmakers target Golden Gate Bridge sidewalk fee

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    Cosby philanthropy shadowed by sexual allegations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Oakland police arrest more than 40 protesters

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

    Arkansas, Mississippi gay marriage bans overturned

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

     
    Calorie count to appear with many prepared foods

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    8 shoes of Holocaust victims stolen in Poland

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    Activists: Syrian strikes kill 60 in IS-held city

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    AP sources: Top candidate for defense job bows out

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

     
    WWII Museum opening new pavilion in New Orleans

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    Police: Students ran high school prostitution ring

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

     
    Wet basements in Buffalo as flooding fears ease

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    Soldiers to spend Thanksgiving in Ebola isolation

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    2 teen female bombers kill more than 40 in Nigeria

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    Official: Afghan president orders military review

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Living

    Community Calendar: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Nov. 26, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Today in History: Nov. 26, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Horoscope for Nov. 26, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

    The man I’m seeing makes no effort to get to know my kids

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

     
    A do-ahead cornmeal biscuit to sop up your gravy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    Fresh take on an herb-roasted Thanksgiving turkey

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    Turn turkey leftovers into a healthy dinner salad

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    .

    Entertainment

    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    ‘Birdman’ leads Spirit Awards nominations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    .

    Sports

    Vacaville Christian wins 3-0, advances to state quarterfinals

    By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Curry powers Warriors past Heat 114-97

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    49ers rookies shine in big roles, out of necessity

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Cousins, Kings beat Pelicans 99-89

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Red Sox bring in Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    NFL, union discuss personal conduct policy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Bama, FSU, Oregon, Miss St keep playoff rankings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Messi sets European record with 74 goals

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Judge OKs Hernandez trial delay in 2012 killings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Kurt Busch wins delay of Delaware court hearing

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Giants third base coach Tim Flannery retires

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    AP source: Left-hander Jon Lester, Giants to meet

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Pats are unanimous No. 1 in AP Pro32 rankings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    .

    Business

    New iPhones push Apple’s market cap past $700B

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    Twitter lets merchants offer deals to its users

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    US economy posts even stronger growth in Q3

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    Thanksgiving travel woes? There’s an app for that

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    US home price gains slow for 10th straight month

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    Barbie dethroned by Team Elsa

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    Rain, snow could mess up Thanksgiving travel

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Glenita Reyes McLaughliin

    By Daily Republic | From Page: A4

     
    Leslie “Esi” Gros

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5