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3 Ways to Transfer Home Ownership

If you're interested in transferring your home ownership, you may wonder how to go about doing it. There are three common ways people transfer such ownership: through deeds, joint tenancy, and wills.

Here's a general overview of these three types of home ownership transfer:

  1. Deeds. The most common way to transfer home ownership is through a legal instrument called a deed. There are four main types of property deeds to transfer title to a home: a general or special warranty deed, which protects a buyer from claims against the property; a quitclaim deed, which is used to transfer ownership from multiple owners to just one of them; a gift deed, which is used to transfer ownership without any payment; or a fiduciary deed, where a second party is named to sell a property for someone else who is not able to represent himself.
  2. Joint tenancy. When two or more people purchase property together and take the property as joint tenants, they transfer ownership through the right of survivorship. So, when one joint tenant dies, that owner's share transfers automatically to the surviving joint tenants without it having to go to probate. This happens whether or not the deceased owner had a will; in fact, it happens even if the deceased owner's will attempts to leave his interest in the land to someone else. In Massachusetts, a tenancy by the entirety is a form of ownership that is very similar to joint tenancy but is only available to married couples.
  3. Wills. Probate is the process in which a person's estate is divided after his or her death. Estates will typically go through probate even if the decedent left a will. You may or may not need to go to probate court to obtain title to a home belonging to a deceased person. Figuring out if you have to go to probate court depends on many issues, such as the type of property (and property interest) involved and who is claiming the property. Many individuals try to avoid probate because it's a lengthy and often complicated process.

Selecting a transfer method may be most easily achieved with guidance from an experienced real estate attorney. Your attorney will take into account a variety of factors, including several transfer tax implications, to help you determine which method of transfer is most appropriate for you.

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