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Property deed and title ownership: Why do I need them?

While you may have never given title ownership a second thought, the way in which you hold title is crucial to the interest of your property. In the event of your death, the title vesting (the way in which you hold your title) on your deed will dictate who will hold interest in your property.


This is not something that should be decided on at the closing table; nor is this a matter for the title agent who assists with your closing. When deciding how you would like your deed to read and title to be conveyed, it’s best to speak with your attorney.

Understanding Title and Deed

Your deed outlines who owns the rights to the property and your title includes ownership rights along with any:

Easements: This is a right which allows an entity (typically, utilities, municipalities or filed agreements between you and your neighbor) to use another’s land without actual ownership rights. An example of an easement can include: allowing an individual to use a pathway which crosses your land.

Liens: This is an instrument used to secure the payment of a debt such as property taxes, mortgages or judgments.

Encroachments: This is a situation in which a neighbor violates the legal property rights of another. For example, a neighbor builds a fence which sits onto your property. If enough time goes by and the issue of the encroaching fence is not addressed, the land under the fence can then become the neighbor’s legal property.

Possession: This refers to the rights of the tenants (those on title), any estates or adverse possessions.

Statutory Rights/Obligations: These are violations, zoning or building restrictions. This is typically not found on title; however, this type of search can be ordered and added to your title.

Holding Title

While laws vary from state to state the best way to make an educated decision is to speak with a local legal professional.

Some ways title can be held include:

Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship: This type of ownership allows the property to pass to the other tenant without going through probate in the event of the death of one tenant.

Tenants in Common: This type of ownership allows each tenant an equal share of the property. In the event of a tenant’s death, his or her share will become part of the estate.

Tenancy by the Entirety: This is ownership between spouses. If one spouse dies, the property is then left to the surviving partner. Additionally, Tenancy by the Entirety allows for protection against debts by the other.

Single (Widower, divorced, unmarried: This is ownership by an individual.

For more information on how to best hold title and convey a deed, talk with your chosen legal professional.

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