Six Ways to Hold Title

There are a number of ways to hold title on a property in Washington state. With so many options, property title can be confusing. In this post we have outlined the six most common ways to hold title.

1. Hold Title as a Single Person:

A single person may hold title to a property in Washington state. To do so, the only requirement is that you are man or woman who is not legally married.

2. A Married Person; Sole and Separate Property:

Even if you are married you may hold title to a property in your own name. However, your spouse must give consent. Signing a quitclaim deed or other similar instrument will do this. In effect, your spouse is giving up all rights, title and interest in the property.

3. Hold Title as Community Property:

Washington Civil Code clearly defines community property. Community property is property acquired by a husband and wife during marriage, when not acquired as the separate property of either. Real property conveyed to a married man or woman is presumed to be community property unless otherwise stated. Under community property, both spouses have the right to dispose of one-half of the property by will. However, if the other spouse dies without a will, all of it will go to the surviving spouse without administration. If a spouse exercises his/her right to dispose of one-half, that half is subject to administration in the estate.

4. As Joint Tenancy:

A joint tenancy estate may be defined as follows: “A joint interest is one owned by two or more persons in equal shares, by a title created by a single will or transfer, when expressly declared in the will or transfer to be a joint tenancy.” A chief point of joint tenancy property is the right of survivorship. When a joint tenant dies, title to the property immediately vests in the survivor or surviving joint tenants. As a result, joint tenancy property is not subject to disposition by will.

5. As Tenancy in Common:

Under tenancy in common, the co-owners own undivided interests. But, unlike joint tenancy, these interests need not be equal in quantity or duration. In addition, they may arise from different times. There is no right of survivorship under tenancy in common. Each tenant owns an interest which on his or her death vests in his or her heirs or devisees.

6. Hold Title as Domestic Partners:

Washington State allowed same sex couples to enter into Registered Domestic partnerships beginning in 2007. Subsequent laws expanded the scope of this law. With the 2012 passage of Referendum 74, all existing domestic partnerships, unless dissolved, will convert to marriages as of June 30, 2014. Any same sex partners who entered this registry will be considered a married couple after that date. The exception to this rule is for Seniors (where one partner is at least 62 years of age) due to possible Social Security concerns, homestead, and inheritance rights as well as a procedure for Dissolution in Superior Court.

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