Family Law with Carrie Campbell; Are you common law and own a home? Check your title documents

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Do you own a home with another person? If so, you may wish to review your title documents, to refresh your memory as to how title is held. When you own property with another person, it is possible to own it as either "tenants in common" or "joint tenants". If your deed does not reference either term, you automatically own it as tenants in common. The difference between the two types of ownership is quite important.

For example, if you own a home as joint tenants with your common law spouse, and your spouse dies, you will become the sole owner of the home, because you owned it in joint tenancy. In the same scenerio, if you own the home as tenants in common, then on your spouse's death, you still own your portion of the home (normally 50 percent, but not always), however your spouse's estate now owns what was your spouse's share.

A common law couple may choose to buy a home as tenants in common, early on in the relationship. I have seen the surprise decades later, after the death of one, when the realization hits that the deed was never changed to joint tenants. If the deceased common law spouse did not have a will, his/her estate, including his/her share of the house, will be divided according to the Succession Law Reform Act in Ontario. I've written about the importance of wills previously, and this is another example.

Make today, your day to make an appointment with your lawyer - remember to take your Will, if you have one, and your title documents! Do it for those you love.


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