How you title your assets is a very important step in determining who will inherit your property after you pass away. There is a number of ways to title your assets, and it is important to know the differences and implications. Your unique circumstances will help determine which title designation is best for your needs.

Some common designations are Joint Tenancy, Tenancy in Common, and Survivor-ship Marital Property. Each has very different implications for your estate plan. For example, with Joint Tenancy, the surviving owner gets the deceased owner’s interest and gets a limited increase in tax basis. With Tenancy in Common, the property passes to the deceased owner’s heirs and there is no increased tax basis. Finally, with Survivor-ship Marital Property, the surviving spouse gets the property and an increased tax basis for the full value of the property.

How Epiphany Law Can Help

Each of the titling options are filled with detailed rules and exceptions. The attorneys at Epiphany Law understand those rules and can guide you through the process so that your assets are titled to best meet your specific needs.

Titling your assets properly can allow smoother transition from one generation to the next and can reduce the tax burden associated with the transfer of assets. Rely on our experienced estate planning attorneys to provide legal expertise and, most importantly, peace of mind.

Questions and Answers

Q. How do I change title to my assets?

A. It is recommended to work with an attorney to change title to real estate or other assets. In order to change a title or re-title real estate, you must have current property records including the original deed, and will have to interact with the local Register of Deeds.

Q. Why is titling so important in my estate plan?

A. How your assets are titled makes a crucial difference in your estate planning. Proper titling can ensure your heirs receive property as you wish, minimize taxes, and potentially increase the basis of the property. Furthermore, having assets correctly titled in your living trust can mean the difference between opening costly probate and passing assets directly and privately to your beneficiaries.

Q. What is a “Life Estate with Remainder Interest”?

A. A life estate is created by giving a person the right to property (for example, a home) for their lifetime. Upon death, another person (oftentimes, the children) receives the “remainder interest” in the property with a tax basis equal to fair market value as of the date of death. In other words, the beneficiaries of the property can avoid the capital gains tax that would have been due if the property had transferred during life.

Q. What is a TOD account?

A. TOD stands for Transfer on Death. Such titling allows you to retain complete control of the assets (typically in back accounts) during your lifetime while naming a beneficiary upon your death. Talk to an experienced attorney for more details on how a TOD might be of value to you.