Marriage & Property Ownership

As a homeowner, it is important to understand how you own your property. While this may not seem important, it becomes very important in the case of divorce or death. Real estate is titled to indicate ownership and can present problems if it is not owned in a manner you expect. So here are the different types of home ownership.

Joint Tenancy: This is where property is owned by two more more persons with each having an equal share. They must all have the four unities: time, title, interest and possession.

  • Time is the interest in the property must have occurred at the same time
  • Title is where each ownership is held by one title
  • Interest is where each person has the same interest in the property
  • Possession  is where each person has a right to the entire property

The deed will state the ownership. Joint tenancy provides that if any one of the joint tenants dies, the remainder of the property is transferred to the survivors. A married couple typically owns property as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship, meaning if one spouse dies, the other becomes the sole owner of the property, without the need for a will spelling out ownership.

Another form of ownership for married couples in Georgia is Tenancy in Common, where each owner an “undivided interest” in the property, and with each spouse having an equal right to use the property. Unlike Joint Tenants With Rights of Survivorship, Tenants in Common may not have equal ownership interest but each spouse has the right to possess the entire real property where ownership interest may be sold, mortgaged, or willed to another person separately. 

Sole Ownership is where property is owned entirely by one person. One spouse can have sole ownership of property without the other. Unless a will exists to transfer ownership in the event of death, this form of ownership can be difficult for the surviving spouse.