Deeds convey real property from one individual to another. There are several types of deeds and different types of ownership interests. Most commonly, individuals will hold title to property in one of three ways: tenants by the entirety (only for married individuals); tenants in common (each person owns an undivided share of the whole and when the individual dies, his share passes through his probate estate); and joint tenants with rights of survivorship (upon the death of one owner, the property passes automatically to the remaining owners without having to pass through probate). It is important to make sure the type of ownership interest is referenced properly in the deed. Common types of deeds include the following:
- Quit Claim Deeds: These deeds transfer whatever interest you have in the property to another person. There is no verification of your ownership interest.
- No Consideration Deeds: These deeds transfer an ownership interest in the property to another individual for zero dollars. Generally, there is no title search.
- Life Estate Deeds: These deeds provide that the grantor owns the property for and during the term of his natural life and then immediately upon his death, the property passes to the remainderman named in the deed. There are two types of life estate deeds – with powers and without powers. Generally, if a grantor retains powers, then he has the right to dispose of or encumber the property as he pleases; whereas, if the grantor does not retain powers, then he is not able to sell, encumber, or otherwise dispose of the property without the remainderman’s permission. Life estate deeds without powers can be a useful tool in Medicaid planning. On the other hand, a life estate deed with powers can be detrimental for Medicaid purposes.
Before transferring property, it is always best to consult with an attorney to ensure proper titling of the property and to ensure that the ownership interest is what you intend.