Thursday, September 18, 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

.

Solano News

 
Theatre DeVille in Vacaville closes

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 15 Comments | Gallery

 
Focus on school attendance now, always

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

 
Suisun City Senior Center seeks holiday donations

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Lunafest returns to Fairfield in November

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Pepperbelly’s for sale

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 3 Comments

Jury selection begins in 2011 Fairfield murder trial

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

 
Seniors get help at Kroc Center health fair

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Drug court success stories tell their tales

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Weather for Sept. 18, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B10

 
.

US / World

Emotions mount on final day of Scottish campaign

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
More than 2,000 homes threatened in California fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Maps provide early warning of California fire risk

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
NASA’s Maven spacecraft reaches Mars this weekend

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

US military role in Iraq raises combat questions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Police: Ambush suspect was military re-enactor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

House grudgingly approves arms for Syrian rebels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
Ex-VA doctor: Phoenix report a ‘whitewash’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

School district police stock up free military gear

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Doctor says Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has cancer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

US scientist: Ebola unlikely to become airborne

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Liberia president praises US for Ebola help pledge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Obama reaffirms opposition to US combat in Iraq

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

 
AP Interview: Iraq premier says no foreign troops

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

.

Opinion

 
Homeless find welcome in Vallejo

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 7 Comments

 
Give new crime report a chance

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7, 16 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 18, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Sept. 18, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
My brother fails to make an effort to when it comes to my kids

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
U2 returns to iTunes Top 100 — 26 times

By Los Angeles Times | From Page: B4, 1 Comment

Directors Guild finds TV diversity hiring stalled

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Sports

Rodriguez gets 1st MEL soccer win since return to league

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Giants snap tie in 9th, beat Arizona to narrow gap in West to 2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
49ers’ Kaepernick fined for inappropriate language

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1, 4 Comments | Gallery

Panthers remove DE Greg Hardy from active roster

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Barry Bonds appeal heads back to court

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NFL, union agree to new drug policy, HGH testing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raiders rookie Derek Carr focuses on job at hand

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Pegulas’ bid to buy Bills OK’d by NFL committee

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
FSU benches Winston for 1st half of Clemson game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Umpire West suspended 1 game for grabbing jersey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
After making ‘mistake,’ Vikings bench RB Peterson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sharks sign D Braun to 5-year, $19 M extension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rockets acquire Jason Terry, picks from Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

Wells Fargo pays $290,000 in sex harassment case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Fed signals plan to keep key rate at record low

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Brown signs ride-sharing insurance legislation

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
US homebuilder confidence soars in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Anthem, hospitals join to offer new insurance plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Drag queens dress down Facebook over names

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

.

Obituaries

Margaret King

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9