Gayle Reeves' Blog

How Do You Own Your Home?

Gayle A. Reeves - Tuesday, June 30, 2015

           When was the last time you looked at the deed to your home?  If you are like many people, you may have looked at it when you bought your home.  Than you put it with your other important papers and never looked at it again.  Ohio law provides for several different ways in which a person can take title to real property.  Each way has a different result when you die.  Now is a good time to find your deed and take a good look at it to see how your home is titled.  If it is not properly titled to have the effect that you want, have a new deed prepared that will accomplish your desires.

            One type of ownership is sole ownership.  This is when one person owns a parcel of real property.  Upon that person’s death, ownership of the property must be transferred through the Probate process.

            Another type of ownership is joint tenancy.  Joint tenancy occurs when two or more individuals each have an undivided interest in real property.  Upon one of the joint tenant’s death, his or her interest must be transferred through the Probate process.  The interest of the surviving owners is not affected.

            Joint tenancy with rights of survivorship occurs when two or more individuals are the owners of the real property, but language is included that says they will own the property jointly for their lives, remainder to the survivor of them.  Upon the death of one of the joint tenants, the surviving owners file an Affidavit of Survivorship with the County Recorder.  This affidavit transfers ownership of the property to the surviving owners.  No Probate process is required.

            A transfer on death affidavit acts in much the same way as a payable on death bank account or a life insurance policy.  The TOD affidavit avoids probate.  The property is quickly and easily transferred into the names of your designated beneficiaries by a simple filing with the County Recorder’s Office. 

As with many estate planning tools, different types of documents for real property will meet the needs of different people.  What will work for your neighbor, may not work for you.  It is best to have an attorney review your deed, and understand your estate planning goals to make sure that your deed is right for you.