This may seem like an easy question (and often it is), but now is the time to be thinking about how you want to actually take title to your new home or property. For instance, if you have a Living Trust, you likely want to take ownership in the name of the Trust (caveat: this depends on why you created the living trust; be sure to talk with your estate planning attorney first). If you are buying an investment property, you may want to form and take ownership in the name of an LLC or Corporation for liability purposes. If you are buying your home with someone, whether it’s a spouse, partner, child or sibling, you want to think about both the form of ownership and the appropriate ownership percentages (e.g., if you’re paying for 75% of the home, then you probably want to make sure you own 75% of the property). In Washington, couples also need to understand what “community property” means (link coming soon!) and how it can affect you down the road.
Here’s a short list of the common forms of ownership, which we can discuss with you further:
- Sole Ownership
- Tenants in Common
- Community Property
- Living Trust
- LLC or Corporation
Finally, there is a new tool available in Washington state, which allows you to essentially place a “beneficiary designation” on your property. It’s called the transfer on death deed (I know, it’s a horrible name, but it’s what it is). These deeds do not affect the actual ownership of your home or property while you’re alive, but can (in certain circumstances) help you to transfer your property to your children or others without having to go through probate. I’ll be posting more information about these TOD deeds shortly; in the meantime, consult with your real estate or estate planning attorney to determine if it’s a good fit for you.