How Do You Want to Hold Title?

This is a question that should be asked by your closing attorney prior to your real estate closing, but if it is not, you should make sure that you are taking title the way you intend.

There are three ways to take title to real property in South Carolina:

1.)    Sole Ownership. When a person hold title this way, upon his death, title is passed to whoever s/he has named in their Will. If there is no Will, title will be passed to his/her heirs.

2.)    Tenants-in-Common. Two or more people who take title to property usually take title this way. Tenants-in-common do not have to own equal interest in the property. For example one owner may own ¼ and the other may own the remaining ¾. However, each owner has an undivided interest. For example, it cannot be broken down into, “you own two bedrooms and I own three bedrooms”, unless there is a separate agreement. With this type of ownership, one person can sell his/her interest to a third party without the consent of the other owners. More importantly, when an owner dies his/her interest is passed on to whoever is named in their Will. If there is no Will, interest will pass to his/her heirs. Even when a husband and wife take title this way, the property still has to be probated.

3.)    Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship. This is the most common way that married people take title, although you do not have to be married to take title this way. The most important feature of holding title this way is that if one owner dies, the other automatically takes the deceased persons interest in the property. The property does not have to be probated.

If you do not specifically ask the closing attorney to convey title as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship, s/he may prepare a Deed that leaves you holding title as Tenants in Common and not as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship. Make sure you have the attorney review the Deed with you prior to recordation.

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