Friday, January 22, 2010

Joint tenants vs. tenants-in-common

When talking to clients about estate planning, I always ask them about the title to their homes, cottages and revenue properties. The majority of people will respond with the names of the people who are "on title". However, when I ask whether the people on title are on as joint tenants or as tenants-in-common, they usually don't know. I'm often then asked, "does it make a difference?"

The short answer is yes, it makes a difference.

When a property is held in joint tenancy, the situation is what I refer to as "the last man standing". When one joint tenant dies, the entire property belongs to the remaining, surviving joint tenant(s). Whoever is the last joint tenant to die owns the property. Only that last person can use his or her Will to give the property to someone else.

For example, let's sayy Robert, Dean and Chris are joint tenants of a house. Dean passes away. Even though Dean would like to leave his share to his wife, he can't because he's a joint tenant. Robert and Chris then own the property. Robert dies. Chris now owns the whole property. Because Chris is the only name on title now, he can leave the property to his wife and children. There is nothing for Dean or Robert's families.

Tenants-in-common is a different story. In this arrangement, each person owns a half, or third, or some other portion that belongs only to them. They can leave their share to someone in their Will or sell it (never mind the logistical problems of trying to sell one third of a house).

To adapt our example above, let's say Robert, Dean and Chris are tenants-in-common of the property and each owns and equal 1/3. When Dean passes away, he leaves his share to his wife, Deana. Now the owners are Robert, Deana and Chris. Then Robert passes away and leaves his shares to his wife, Roberta. Now the owners are Deana, Roberta and Chris. In this way, each of the individual owners retains control of his or her share.

Between a husband and wife, a title is almost always held as joint tenants. This is so that when the first spouse dies, the other one will automatically own the family home without having to go through probate. Note that this is not always done in second marriages, depending on the situation.

The subject of names on title comes up at estate planning time because the type of ownership might affect your estate plan.

Note to readers: Please don't leave comments or questions on this thread. Because this thread has more than 200 comments, I can no longer see or respond to the comments at the end. This appears to be the maximum that this blog allows. I still want to reply to your comments though, so please feel free to ask your question on another thread. Thanks! Lynne

228 comments:

  1. In theory each Joint Tenant owns the whole of the property jointly with the
    other owner or owners. No party has a specific share in the property while
    Joint tenancy continues. This means that the Joint Tenants must have equal
    interests in the property, and are entitled equally to its rents and profits. There
    can be two or more Joint Tenants. Joint tenancy is usual in marriage where the spouses want to hold the property equally, and, also want the principle of survivorship to apply. It is not so common in other situations. Tenants in Common have fixed undivided shares in the property. Tenants in
    Common can have unequal shares (for example, two-thirds to one and one-third to the other). They are not a definitive analysis of the subject and professional legal advice should be taken before any final decision is made.

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  2. I completely agree. My intention here is to alert readers to a potential issue or question, in the hope that they will then ask their own lawyer for advice on how the issue applies to them. Thanks for your input.

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    1. Great article! Joint Tenancy applies to the physical house and property but what about the personal property? As an e.g. my grandfather recently passed and he was joint tenant with an uncle. The uncle assumes that all personal property, chattels now belong to him. The will states different however was written in 1998 whereas the new mortgage agreement was entered into in 2006-2007

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  3. Can my partner and I switch from joint tenancy to tenants-in-common if we both agree to? Will our bank agree to this if I'm the one paying the mortgage, and can prove, with partner's admission, but am the one they consider high risk for being self-employed?

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  4. Yes, if you and your partner agree, you can change the title. You will have to file some documentation at the Land Titles Office but it's not a difficult transaction. I can't comment on what the bank will do with your mortgage as there are just too many variables. I certainly urge you to call your mortgage contact at the bank and talk about this before you take any steps at the Land Titles Office so that you know all the consequences before you act.

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  5. Can someone change from joint tenants to tenants in common without informing the other joint tenants? I am referring to 3 family members that have agreed upon joint tenancy - could one of the family members change the deed to tenants in common without informing the other two?? Without consent?

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  6. No, once the document has been registered as a joint tenancy, it can only be changed to tenancy in common by signed consent of ALL of the joint owners. This process is called severing the title. I'm attaching a link to the Land Titles Office procedure manual which will tell you more about this, and let you see what the documents look like. When you get to the page, scroll down to #2 (severing).

    Here's the link:

    http://www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca/pdf/ltmanual/TEN-2.pdf

    Lynne

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  7. Regarding 'severing a joint tenancy', sounds like Alberta and Ontario have different rules. In Ontario, one joint tenant owner can 'sever the joint tenancy' without the consent of the other(s) joint tenant owner(s). This is often done where a couple are splitting up and one of the spouses wants to ensure his/her share of the property is part of his/her estate rather than ending up in the other owner's hands. If there are two joint tenant owners, severing the joint tenancy will result in each one owning a 50% share as a tenant-in-commnon.

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  8. Hello
    I own 30 acres of property with my sibling in Calderon Canada. We are both Canadian born but reside in the U.S.

    He does not want to sell. Can I sell my half without him selling his half? How can I do this?

    In fact he want to add his childrens names to the property now he has 4 and I have only one child.. He says he wants to add the names in case of his death so the property goes to the children. Does this not automatically happen anyways? I already have a living trust set up here in the U.S for my daughter with the property listed is that not sufficient enough?

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  9. I am a joint tenant. We are not getting along. He is living in the property and I am working to carry it., living in my house elsewhere. Can I rent weekends out to other people while he is living in it, as I work weekends and this property is rentable and on the water.
    I have put all the money into it and need money. He is no longer helping with the mortgage and maintenance fees. I am trying to recover some money to pay for same as I dont want the bank to foreclose and ruin my credit rating. He has no credit rating. I live in Ontario.

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  10. Hi. It's impossible for me to tell from your post exactly how this land is owned. The form of ownership makes all the difference in the answer to your question.

    You mentioned "my half" so I assume that you two siblings own the property as tenants-in-common as opposed to joint tenants. However, you mention at the end that you have a trust in which the property is "listed". I'm not sure if that means your half is already in the name of the trust.

    This is the point at which I'd look at a title to the property to make sure that you really are tenants-in-common, because in my experience, owners talk about "my half" even when they are joint tenants and there are no halves.

    If you are tenants-in-common, you can sell your half without his consent and without affecting his title to his portion. If you are joint tenants, you cannot sell.

    If you are tenants-in-common, he can add whatever names he likes to his half without affecting you. If you are joint tenants, he will need your consent to add the names. If you are joint tenants, understand that he is not adding names to his half because in joint tenancy there are no halves. Each joint tenant owns the entire property with a right of survivorship over the other owners. This means that if he added 4 children, there would then be 6 equal owners of the entire property. Whoever is the last person to die out of all 6 will own the whole thing. This is why I always refer to joint tenancy as a "last man standing" arrangement.

    If you are joint tenants, I'd suggest that you do not agree to any names being added until you have talked to a lawyer to understand the risks to you of doing so.

    To answer your question about what happens automatically, if you are joint tenants, nothing will go to the children unless their names are on the title. If you are tenants-in-common, on your death your half would be distributed according to your Will. If the property is owned by the trust, on your death it will still be owned by the trust.

    I'd suggest that you obtain a current copy of the title to the land and a copy of the trust agreement, and take them to a lawyer. You need a better understanding of your ownership of this property in order to plan your estate.

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  11. My brother and I are joint tenants of my Father's house, who is now passed away. I rent the house out and we put the money in an account where we both have to sign the cheques. Usually, I do the majority of the work to keep the house repairs up, or if a contractor needs to be hired, I do it, or if the property has to be re rented I do it. He does very little, but does not think he has to pay me for any of the work I do. Can I send him a bill? Because I know what needs to be done, if I ask him, he doesn't respond, give me the OK, Most of the time, I don't know whether he is going to refuse to pay the bills I incur to run the property. He says since it is joint tenancy, he doesn't have to pay. Then he tells me I didn't do anything. Should I take pictures?

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  12. I appreciate your posting this, as it really does show why parents should think twice before leaving a title jointly to children. It really sounds as if you and your brother are having problems that are going to lead to the end of the joint tenancy.

    I wonder why you are keeping the house. Is it because it was your father's house and you don't feel it should be kept in the family? Is it that your brother (or perhaps you) don't want to sell it because of property values? Because you two own it as joint tenants, when one of you passes away, the other one is going to own the entire property by right of survivorship and there will be nothing to pass to the family of the person who passes away first.

    Having said that, I don't see your question as an estate planning issue. I think you need to see a lawyer who specializes in real estate and who can give you some ideas on how to deal with current issues. It's probably a good idea to do that sooner rather than later, as obviously problems have been ongoing for some time.

    Lynne

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  13. I have been reading your posts on property ownership and am perplexed as to how that might affect my own situation. I have one sister (who lives far away) and we are residuary beneficiaries of Dad's estate, which is mostly bank funds and insurance. I am the sole executrix. But he had a condo, which is jointly owned by me and him (not tenants in common). If I understand you, ownership passes to me on his death (I haven't changed the title yet as his death is recent). Thus the condo is not part of the estate for probate purposes. Is that right? We never discussed that at the time he put me on the title. I just assumed it was to simplify things when he died. Surely he didn't mean for me to have it, but to sell it and split the proceeds with my sis. If I wanted to be a mean and selfish executrix and keep the condo to myself, could my sis contest my decision?

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  14. I hope that any parents who have put their real estate in joint names with their children, or are considering doing so, are reading this thread. There is a lot of uncertainty arising from these arrangements, as you are finding out.

    To answer the first part of your question, if you own the property as joint tenants, the survivor owns the entire property when the other joint tenant dies. So yes, it will pass into your name. You have to take a death certificate to the Land Titles Office to make that happen.

    No, the real estate will not be part of the estate for probate purposes.

    It's the last part of your question that concerns me. It just seems so risky to dispose of your biggest asset without telling anyone your intentions, yet people do this every day. From what you've said here, your father never did tell you anything such as "one day this will be yours". He didn't leave any written instructions to that effect. All we have is a joint title, which on the face of it leaves the house to you, and a Will which asks that you and your sister be treated equally.

    The fact that something was in joint names used to be the end of the argument. But over the last few years, the courts are changing how we deal with intergenerational assets such as your condo. Now it becomes essential to determine whether your father intended it to be a "true" joint tenancy with right of survival, or whether he meant it to be a tool for estate planning only.

    I hope you will resist the urge to be "mean and selfish" (I know you will, or you wouldn't have phrased it that way) because I don't think your position of keeping the title for yourself is that solid. I beleive that based on recent case law your sister could contest it and have a decent shot at being successful.

    One last point - before you and your sister put the house in both your names, have an honest discussion about how that is going to work. Is anyone going to live there? How are expenses to be divided up? Is it to be rented out? Who'll act as landlord? Should it be sold? If you keep it in joint names, do you realize that when one of you passes away there is nothing to leave to your children?

    Best of luck,
    Lynne

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  15. My husband recently severed joint tenancy on our primary residence. I understand this to mean his share goes to his estate on his death rather than to me as survivor. How does this affect my ownership of this residence? (Could I actually sell?)

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  16. My Dad is in the hospital and will be going into a long term care home. My Mom died 8 years ago and the house, bonds and bank account are in my Dad's name. My brother lives in my Dad's house and my husband and I may move into it as well but we currently own our own house. My father wants my brother and I to inherit his assets equally when he dies. We are considering adding my brother and I onto my Dad's house as joint tenants and also adding my brother and I onto the bonds and bank account. Is this the best way tax wise to handle things to avoid probate and taxes? Will adding our names trigger any capital gains or other taxes on the house, the bonds or the bank account? Are we better to just keep everything in my Dad's name only and pay the $5/$1000 on the 1st $50,000 and $15/$1000 on everything else. The house is worth about $750,000 and the bonds and cash another $250,000. If my Dad moves into a long term care home can the house still be considered his primary residence or will capital gains be triggered at some point?

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  17. If a joint tenancy has been severed you are now tenants in common. Theoretically you should each own half of the property. You are correct in that on his death, his share will become part of his estate and be controlled by his Will. Similarly, your portion will be controlled by your Will. Yes, you can legally sell your portion, though as a practical matter, it might not be easy to find a buyer who only wants half of a title. However, other family members might be interested. Please be cautious because I don't have all the facts here and can only comment on the legalities of severed titles in general.

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  18. If your father's home is his principal residence, there will be no capital gains tax on its disposition, whether that disposition is brought about by selling it or by adding his children to the title. So there is no difference tax-wise in those two approaches. However, there are other considerations, as you've mentioned. Often parents to add children's names to the title to avoid paying probate fees, but if your father also has other assets, it's likely that there will have to be probate in any event. I'm not a fan of putting children's names on the parents' real estate, partly because there is such a risk to the parent of the child getting divorced or otherwise losing the property. This is also because it can be a logistic nightmare to have joint owners after your father's death, unless one plans to buy the other out.

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  19. 2 siblings and I bought a house together and became tennants in common. I provided the funds for a down payment, and other funds, as at the time was financially more able. One sibling experienced some financial difficulty and requested I provide her ready funds equivelant to and in exchange for her share in the said property-so I would then own 2/3rds of the property. We formalised this a few years later with my official purchase of her share for '$1'. The other sibling was unaware of this transaction at the time, however now believes that becuase she was not involved in the transaction, and did not have opportunity to agree/disagree with it, then it is not 'legal'.
    I have wanted to sell the property for some time however we continue to have issue over what shares i legally own.

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  20. My father recently died and his will says that my brother and I inherit his assets equally. We are coexecutors as well. His largest asset is his house. My brother does not own a home. I own a home as joint tenants with my husband. My brother is currently living in the house and my husband and I will probably also move into it in a couple of years. We are planning to keep the house until one of us wants to sell. We have been advised by a friend who does income tax returns for a living that if we transfer the title to both my brother and myself as tenants in common that will trigger capital gains on my half interest. We have been advised that we can avoid the capital gains problem if we transfer the title to my brother's name only but also have a legal agreement signed by each of us that says the property will be sold if either of us wants to sell and that my brother will pay me half of the proceeds. Is this a good way to avoid capital gains on my portion or is there a better way? If you are not the proper expert to answer this question, what type of expert should we consult?

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  21. I hold a house in joint tenancy with my mother. She became ill and decided to change her "will". She gave a copy of the title to her lawyer and asked him to include it in her "WILL".

    Was it legal for him to do this without letting me know what he was doing?

    My mother has since passed away, and it has created a huge split in the family.

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  22. Can a lawyer knowingly put property held in joint tenancy into as "WILL" without notifying the other tenants on the title what he is doing? Is this legal?
    If this is the case than what is the point of joint tenancy?

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  23. Hi, please see my answer to the previous question by clicking on the link here, or pasting it into your browser: http://estatelawcanada.blogspot.com/2010/09/change-of-joint-title-causes-family.html

    I'm not sure why you think this is the lawyer's responsibility; if anyone is trying to do something sneaky, it's the client who is trying to get around the joint tenancy. And of course it's legal for a lawyer to keep his or her client's transactions confidential. That's one of the cornerstones of our business. As you will note from my earlier post, it doesn't matter what you say in your Will if your property is held in joint tenancy because the Will won't touch it. A part owner of a property can only dispose of his or her share of it if it's held as tenants-in-common. I think your first step is to check the title to see whether you actually own your part as a joint tenant or as a tenant-in-common, as that will determine what the other owner can or can't do in the Will.

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    1. …it means the Lawyer, will advised their client and will do; a legal and or illegal documents filed? …then at the end result the family, who will left behind when the person is dead will dealt with the discrepancy; and another lawyer will make money out of new disputes? …‘so then what is the point of having the lawyer involved?

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    2. The first half of your message isn't a question, in fact it isn't even a sentence. All I can say is that putting something incorrect in your will doesn't make it an "illegal document". To answer your question, the point of having the lawyer involved is for you to find out that you can't leave your jointly owned property in the will. You obviously have no real knowledge of what lawyers do or what our role is. If you think we simply put everything into a document that a client wants without questioning it, you are completely wrong.

      Lynne

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  24. Hello,

    My father had co-signed as a tennant in common for my home back in 2003. The share was 99% mine and 1% his. The will did not state anything in regards to giving me the home so the estate will take over ( I'm assuming ). My father has put everything to my mother. My mother would like to give the 1% to me. Will there be any charges for this and can it be done?

    Ontario

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  25. My parents added me to their property as joint tennant as agreed by my brother. Now my brother has decided he wants a say in this property and possbly to inherit a portion of the property. The will states the estate is to be split 50/50. My parents are still alive and have stated their wishes are for me to have sole right to the cottage. I am currently doing costly repairs to the property based on assumption that the property is mine and my parents only. After reading the previous articles, I find I am confused. Do I inherit this property or do I share partial ownership with my brother?

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  26. If you have been added as a joint tenant, then the Will does not control the title to the house. As I've said in a few of my posts, joint property rules have been changed by recent court cases, so that intergenerational joint property (such as yours) can be changed by the courts. The main goal for your family, I would say, is to keep all of this away from the courts. It sounds like your parents have done what they feel best in terms of planning and letting the kids know their plans. But your brother, well, this could be a problem and the estate could end up in a legal dispute. Perhaps your parents would be willing to leave a written memo stating that the house is to be yours, and that it's not intended to be part of the 50/50 split? The big issue in the intergenerational cases is that nobody knows for sure what the parents intended. If you can get it in writing, and keep it somewhere safe, you might just be preventing a lawsuit.

    Lynne

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  27. Hello Ontario,
    Since your Dad only took 1%, I'm assuming this was done for financing or similar reasons, and not because he wanted to own part of this house. You're right that his 1% will fall under his estate and be controlled by the Will. If your Mom is inheriting everything, the 1% will be put into her name. Certainly she can give that to you. Once she owns that 1% she can basically so as she likes with it. It's not a good idea to leave it too late so that her Will ends up dividing your 1% between you and your siblings. There will be a charge at the land titles to change the title, but it will be small, as the cost of transferring generally depends on the value of the property being transferred.

    Lynne

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  28. My common law partner made a deal with his grandmother a few years ago to buy her property. My partner has been the sole one making payments on this property. Part of the deal was that his grandmother lived in the house until she dies or goes to a nursing home. At the present time she is still living there. Also, when this deal was made, my partner made his parents joint owners on the property. As a common law couple with a child, we are trying to get our affairs in order to protect our family in case one of us was to die. However, his parents are refusing to take their names off the deed at this time. They stated that their name would come off the deed once we moved into the house or when it was paid off. How can we get around this issue and make plans to protect our family at this time?

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  29. My father transfered my grandparent's cottage from the estate where he was a Trustee into his name, my name and my sisters. We have had a "falling out" He now wants to sell the cottage and retain all sale proceeds.
    Do I have any rights to a share of the proceeds?

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  30. I haven't seen the Will or have any other background information, but I'm assuming that the cottage is now in three names as joint tenants. One owner can't sell if the others refuse. And even if you all agreed to the sale, why would one owner keep the money? If you agree to this sale, get your own lawyer who acts only for you, to make sure that there is someone protecting your interests.

    Lynne

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  31. Hi Lynne,

    Thank you for your response. The Will left the cottage to my father only but he then transfered it out of the estate into his name, mine and my sisters as joint tenants.

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  32. Hi Lynne,

    Re: Nov 15 Post
    I took your advice and spoke to my lawyer and he indicated that since my father didn't have a separate document drawn up indicating that this property was to be held in trust I am a full owner with rights to the proceeds. He did however say my father could take this to court to have a judge decide. Do you agree with his advice?

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  33. Hi Lynne,
    I have a question about a family cottage property. The property belongs to my widowed mother (78) and is her only major asset and principal residence. There are 9 siblings from a blended family and 4 use the property regularly as do their children.I am also the executor of my mother's will and I know that there will be difficulty with the dispursement of this asset when my mother passes. I am having difficulty in determining the best course of action to take now such that everyone is treated fairly. Is there a standard trust arrangement that may be made such that any siblings wishing to continue to use the property may do so if, they abide by the rules and share the operating expenses as directed by the Trustee (me)? Also, it would need to be stipulated that if the trustee decided to sell the property, then all siblings or their heirs would receive equal shares of the proceeds.

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  34. At the risk of sounding cynical, this cottage arrangement sounds like a nightmare in the making. You as executor are in a no-win situation. Certainly you could have an agreement made up, and theoretically you could even please 9 people enough to have them sign it (reality is another matter). But to me this is full of problems. Only 4 people are getting benefit of an asset being held in trust for 9 of them. Won't be long before the other 5 begin to ask for some benefit too, most likely in the form of a sale. It also won't be long before a dispute arises as to who gets to use the cabin on Canada Day or some other important day. Someone will pass away and his or her share will pass to his or her kids, adding more names to the mix. Then the property will need capital repairs such as a new roof and the fight will be on as to who should pay. A repair done to preserve a capital asset should be paid by everyone who is eventually going to own it, but it's going to be nearly impossible to get money out of those who aren't actually using the cabin. And when would this trust end? I'd hate to be in your shoes trying to run this.

    Have you explored other ideas, such as selling the cottage outright, and allowing the 4 who are interested to have first crack at it? They could use their share of the sale proceeds as part of the purchase proceeds. This would pay off those who aren't interested in using the cottage, and would allow you to close off your term as executor.

    Lynne

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  35. As for whether I agree with your lawyer's advice, I can only say that you are much safer relying on someone who works in your jurisdiction, who has looked at the paperwork and who has discussed this in person with you than you are relying on general information from me. I'd never second-guess someone who has way more facts than I do.

    Lynne

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  36. Thanks Lynne. I have been concerned about this for 10 years now and there is currently a will in place which states that the property could be sold at market value less 10% and the first right of refusal will be given to the sibling(s). If more than one sibling was to buy it then the title would need to be tennants in common. One problem with that is that some of these people will not be able to afford it. Is the 10% reduction normal or could it be reduced more? Can the major shareholder (51%) prevent another tennant from selling?

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  37. If I were you, I'd consult an accountant about the tax effects of buying something from the estate at a discount.

    I'm not in favour of several siblings owning the title to a property together. It's just a problem waiting to happen. Read some of the comments that readers have left on this blog about the issues they're having with their siblings and you'll soon see what I mean. What will one person do if the roof is leaking badly and the others won't help pay for the new roof? Pay it all and help everyone at your own expense? Let the roof leak and damage your own property? And that's just one example!

    The property owners are not shareholders in the corporate sense where one can out-vote another. One tenant in common can't control what another does with his or her share of the property; it doesn't matter how big or small each person's share of the title is.

    Lynne

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  38. Hi Lynne,

    My husband and I bought a house with another couple. I am joint tenants with my husband as with the other couple and we are tenants in common to the other couple. Recently the other couple (who are not married) split up and one moved out. One of them wants to buy the share of the other person. Can the other person force us to sell the house? What can we do to keep the house? We were naive and don't have any formal agreements.

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  39. Whatever arrangements your friends make for their half of the house should not affect you. They can't force you to sell, though it could be pretty inconvenient for you to own part of the property if they end up fighting over the share in court. Hope it works out.

    Lynne

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  40. You have a very interesting site. My friend has a tenancy in common situation in a house with her brother. He owns a 2/3 share with her owning a 1/3 share. Can she be forced to sell her interest to him or through him going to the courts to any other interested party? This is in Ontario and he apparently has filed papers to the courts to force a sale. She is willing to buy him out but he seems bent on forcing her out of ownership in the property.

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  41. Hi Lynne,

    I wrote a comment to you a few weeks ago pretaining to my common law partners house that his grandmother is still living in. I also stated that his parents are joint tenants on the house and we asked to have their names removed. However, they are not interested in removing their names. What protection is there for my child and myself if he were to die and his parents name are still on the house?

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  42. My father has a will and power of attorney all to us three kids.
    My parent are very elderly and ready for retirement home. They own their home and other bank assets...GIC's, pensions etc.
    Will any of the assets become taxable... The tetirement home and govt.look at the their taxable income in deciding subsiding their stay. I imagine my brother be pushing to have the houseand/or assets put in the kids name for this reason. Would thei be b3e any other motives?

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  43. Great site you have here.

    I own a house with a girlfriend as tenants in common(50% each). I just moved into it and she wants me to pay her rent. The house was built in the 1800's and is quite dilapitated. My husband is a carpenter and we want to fix it up before selling it (which is what she wants too). We want her to pay half of the materials on the house but she refuses. We usually charge $50/hr for my husbands services. We don't believe we should pay rent because we will do the work for free. The work is vital to selling the property at a decent price. Can she make us pay rent to live in a house I own. Can we make her pay 1/2 the costs of fixing it.

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  44. Re the house built in the 1800s: this isn't really an estate planning question. It sounds like you could use some legal advice before things get out of hand. You don't need an estate planner for the question you've asked here; you need a lawyer who specializes in residential real estate.

    Lynne

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  45. Re the father who has set up will and power of attorney "to all three kids". Thanks for the question. Are you sure that all of you are appointed as attorneys under the power of attorney? If so, I suggest that the three of you pool your resources to pay an estate planning lawyer to spend an hour or two with you as a group. Take your documents to the lawyer and ask for clarification on who is supposed to be doing what. Find out if the power of attorney has been brought properly into effect. Talk about what needs to be done right now for your parents. Please don't take any steps like putting the house in joint names with the kids until a) you've clarified that you have authority to do that, and b) you know what the tax and legal implications are.

    Lynne

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  46. As one of 5 tenants in common(sisters), can I buy the others out at fair market value and avoid capital gains taxes (for them)? I wonder, if I buy their portion for a dollar but give them each a gift of $40,000, can we beat the taxman?? This 3 1/2 acres was our family home and our parents are deceased. Everyone but me wants to sell this Ontario property. Four of the five of us reside in Ontario. The other is in the UK.

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  47. Hi Lynne
    My mother transfered her condo to my sister and myself 2 years before she died. TCOM 50%. My sister moved in with my mom for her well being and my mothers about 6 months after the transfer. My mother died 2 years after the transfer. My sister continues to live in condo 3 years after my mother has died. She has changed the locks and I have no access to it. I have my own life, family and house. I do not live in the condo my mother owened. All I need to know are what are my rights? Can I enter the condo if I want? Can I sell my share? Can I move in? Can I allow my nephew to move into my share? The condo mgt seems to think I have no rights since I don't live there. Also is there a main number for the MTCC or do I have to go through the number for the building only? Sorry for all the questions.
    Regards
    David

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  48. My mother and I are joint on her own home.(she decided in 2005 this would be a good idea- I suggest now, NOT a good idea) It was the home where I was raised and have not lived there in 30 years. I am on only child and my father is deceased. She is now in long term care. I am Guardian of Property as granted by the courts. The house has been repaired and sold by me, the closing date is this month. I will receive no proceeds from this house selling and have a Management Plan to invest her money, and will have to follow the plan. My question is am I liable for capital gains even though i will receive no money (i:e: 1/2 the selling price)?
    This is a HUGE issue for me.

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  49. Hi. It sounds like you've educated yourself about how to be your mom's Guardian of Property and have matters under control. I'm going to answer your question about the capital gain, though I do have to qualify my answer by saying that I'm not an accountant (if any accountants read this blog post and want to chime in, feel free!). I believe that you won't be liable for any capital gain on the sale of your mom's house. You said you haven't lived there for 30 years and presumably you have a principal residence elsewhere. You've stated that all of the sale proceeds will be held in trust for your mom according to her Management Plan. As the plans and their corresponding records are filed with the court, it's a matter of official record. It appears that although your name was put on the house, the beneficial owner of the property was always your mother and that your name was put on it only for estate planning purposes. This is not to say that Canada Revenue Agency couldn't one day look into the transaction further, but with all of the proceeds in your mom's hands, it seems unlikely that the matter would go any further.

    Lynne

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  50. Hello Lynne,

    I live in British Columbia and wanted to know if Tenants in Common and Joint tenancy have the same rules in Canada? My situation is that we own a home that is in fact Joint tenancy with my husband, myself and my father in law. Its been a year and we cannot get along with the father in law. He claims he will change the house into a Tenancy in Common on his own and therefore ours will be changed automatically. So my question to you is can he do this w/o our consent and signatures? If yes, will it affect us in terms of our mortgage? He is holding all of the homes original documents (land titles) can he do anything with these? and are we able to get a second original copy? Selling the home is not an option as of now but will be down the road(est 4 years max) What kind of legal action can he take to enforce title change if this is even possible?? Please help!

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  51. The concept of Joint Tenancy is interesting. When my father died his will stipulated that the house would be inherited 60/40 with my sister. The residue of the estate would also be split 60/40. Is the house considered to be a Joint Tenancy with my sister or is it part of the estate?

    Dale

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  52. Hi Dale,

    There are a couple of smaller questions within your question. If your father is able to leave the house in his will, he must own it by himself and not jointly with anyone else. Otherwise his will wouldn't touch it.

    The house is part of your father's estate.

    If he is specifically leaving the house to you and your sister in the proportions stated, you and she will become tenants in common on the title.

    This means that you and your sister will each have a portion of the house that you can leave in your own estates if you should die while the title is held this way.

    In my experience, homes held between siblings are usually a disaster, and one of you will end up buying out the other.

    Lynne

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  53. Thank you Lynne.

    Great lead into my follow-up question. I would like to buy her out. We had the house appraised and have agreed upon a price. Since his death I have been paying the bills (utilities, property taxes, etc.) and have been shovelling & mowing the lawn. Her position is that since I'm keeping the house, I should bear all these costs since his death not deduct her share from the final settlement. That doesn't sound right to me.

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  54. While the house is in the name of the estate, the estate should be paying the bills. So this means both of you, as those who are inheriting the estate, should pay your respective shares until such time as the house is transferred into your name.

    Lynne

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  55. Hello Lynne,

    I own my own house (A) (my Principal Residence) in Ontario. My friend will be buying a house (B) soon (will be his Principal Residence) and we plan to own it together. Financially, I will be contributing roughly 25% and my friend 75%. Because of the Right of Survivorship in Joint Tenancy, I think we are leaning toward Tenancy in Common. Assuming the Principal Residences don't change, when we sell the house (B) I believe I will have to pay capital gains tax on 25% but will my friend have to pay tax on his 75% share? I want to be sure that my tax situation doesn't negatively impact his.

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  56. I'd suggest you check the purely tax questions with an accountant.

    Lynne

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  57. Hi Lynn,

    My husband and I moved into my mother-in-laws home when her husband died 26 years ago. We have three children. One still lives in the home with us. We are low income workers and will not be able to afford to run this home when she is gone. She has a will in which she states we are to get the house.

    My question is do we need to go to a lawyer to become joint tenants or tenants in common as well or is the will enough for us to avoid inheritance taxes etc. (we haven't asked to see her title yet but I'm assuming that it has her and her husbands name on it) Sorry, we're just confused.

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  58. Hi dawncruiser,

    It sounds as if the home your mother-in-law lives in is her principal residence. If it is, there will be no tax assessed for the transfer of that house to someone else on her death, and there would be no need for you to take any steps to avoid taxation.

    You mentioned that her husband's name is still on the title even though he died 26 years ago. That needs to be taken care of. Otherwise, when your mother-in-law passes away, you will have to probate both her will and her husband's. While your mother-in-law is alive and has mental capacity, help her connect with a lawyer who can help her transfer the title into her name alone. If paying a lawyer isn't possible, look into it by contacting the Land Titles Office in the city nearest you. Unfortunately, working without a lawyer means that future problems can't be avoided, such as leaving the title in the father-in-law's name.

    No need to apologize for asking a question. Estate law is complicated. Good for you for asking questions BEFORE you're in a crisis.

    Lynne

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  59. my father & i own a house 50/50. he remarried after we owned the home. the 3 of us live in this house. she has her own home that she rents out.what will happen to the house that my father & i own if one of us dies.?we live in alberta

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  60. Hi Larry,

    What happens with the house you own with your Dad depends on two things.

    One - whether the title is held jointly with right of survivorship, or whether it's held as tenants in common. In my experience, people call both arrangements "50/50". If it is held as joint tenants and one of you dies, the other continues on as owner of the whole house. If it's held as tenants in common, the half belonging to the one who died will be distributed as part of his estate. The surviving owner will continue to own his half.

    Two - the will in place by the person who died. This only matters if the property was held as tenants in common. If it was held as joint owners, the will makes no difference. If you are tenants in common, make sure you have a will in place stating what is to happen to your half.

    In this case, if your father dies, his wife will not have a Dower right to the property because it is partly owned by you.

    Lynne

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  61. I have recently drawn up wills and powers of attorney for my brothers and sisters. I'm satisfied as to the quality of the documents except I did not use Comm/Oaths or Notary. Instead I had witnesses complete unsworn statements concerning their roles as witnesses. Could you please tell me what is the downside to unsworn wills or Powers of attorney?

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  62. Hi Lynne
    My family has recently found ourselves in a sticky situation. My sister was put on a family friends (a now 88 year old lady)house as a joint tenant 20 years ago. 3 years ago the lady gave my sister all the paperwork including the original land title from 1991 when she (my sister) was added as a joint tenant, she was told that the lady hadn't been feeling well and wanted to make sure my sister had all the papers while she was still able to give them to her. 2 weeks ago, my sister received a request in the mail from a notary asking her to remove herself from the title. The 88 year old was diagnosed with dementia approx. 2 years ago as well. She has told me that she now wishes to leave her house to the three care aides who are helping her. Is this even possible? Is it legal to leave property to caregivers? Does the dementia have any legal ramifications to her not being allowed to ask for a change now, after 20 years? My sister has consulted a lawyer and was told to do nothing, and to sign nothing. She was told that the lady could not ask due to her dementia. I have known this lady all of my life, my sister has been like the daughter that she never had. I cannot imagine how she would have decided to change her mind! I have known since i was 9 (now 36) that this house was going to my sister..who was 12 at the time! (now 39) Please help with info! thanks! We are in BC

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  63. I can certainly see why the alarm bells have rung; I believe that the change supposedly requested by your 88 year old friend would concern anyone who knows her.

    I'm glad that your sister consulted a lawyer. Obviously that lawyer has the ability to give advice that I can't, since that lawyer has seen the document from the notary and has had the chance to discuss it in detail with your sister. Talking to an expert about this was the right move.

    Yes it's legal to leave property to caregivers. But in this case, based on what you told me, it seems inappropriate.

    The issue of dementia is key, as a person with dementia is generally not able to deal with legal documents. Having said that, dementia varies widely from person to person and I am in no position to diagnose it in your friend. I wonder, though, about the diagnosis 2 years ago. Was anyone appointed to help your friend under a power of attorney or a court-appointed trusteeship? I doubt that you want her appointing one of her caregivers under a power of attorney, as that would be a conflict of interest in almost every case.

    Your story concerns me, as any story of potential elder abuse would. Please, please keep an eye on your friend and let it be known that your friend is not alone and unprotected.

    Lynne

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  64. Lynne, my sister was actually on as power of attorney, a little over a year ago, one of the caregivers (the primary one) asked my sister for her copy of the document. My sister sent her a photocopy, only to be told they needed the original document...and yes, she sent it! I know...she shouldn't have. Word around town is that this caregiver does now hold her power of attorney. My sister can get a copy of the unsigned power of attorney from the notary, with his affidavit that he witnessed the signing of it.... when I asked our friend where my sisters copy was, she told me it would be in the hands of the people caring for her now. We have contacted the "right" people to look into things, and hope that things can be made right for her care. We have found out that she has not been outside of her house at all for a year and a half! Thank you for clarifying for me and so quickly! I do know now that the "right" people may be contacting the public guardian and trustee, so now we wait to see what will happen. Thank you once again!

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  65. Lynne
    I am a non resident of Canada that own a house in Canada. The title deed is solely on my name at present. I would like to know if i can add my wife as joint tenant? or She would automatically be an joint tenant when i pass away?
    If i added my wife as joint tenant, would revenue Canada considered that as a sale and levy capital gain tax on me?
    Thank you, for your attention, your answer will be highly appreciated.

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  66. Hi, thanks for your question. I'm not an accountant, so I'm not going to be able to give you a final answer on taxes for non-residents. However, I can share some general rules with you, so at least you have somewhere to start.

    First of all, nobody is ever automatically a joint tenant. Becoming joint tenants is something that is chosen by the owners, usually at the time of purchase. If you want your wife to have the house you can leave it to her in your will, or make her a joint tenant.

    It sounds like the house you're talking about is not your principal residence, therefore not eligible for the capital gains tax exemption. It's my opinion that you would be subject to capital gains tax at that point, though I recommend you check that with an accountant.

    Lynne

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  67. Hi Lynne
    Thank you very much for your answer.
    Yeah,I guess, I would be subject to capital gain tax if I add my wife name as joint tenant with right of survivorship.

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  68. Lynne
    Why is my comment does not appear immediately after i posted it?

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  69. Hi,
    That's because when I set up the page, I selected the option that all comments have to be moderated by me before showing up. That way I can keep out spammers, racists, bad language, etc. I can also make sure that people don't give too much information, because I want to protect their privacy and that of the other people involved in their question.

    Lynne

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  70. Lynne
    I see. Thanks.

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  71. Hi Lynne.
    Five siblings including me,own undivided 1/5th interests in mineral rights to two quarter sections of land in Manitoba. In other words we are tenants in common. We understand the perils of this kind of ownership, given that legal or tax problems of one potentially become problems for all tenants. We are also interested in estate planning and are considering establishing a corporation to buy the assests so that shares can be left to kids rather than further fracturing ownership. Could you please tell me your thoughts on incorporating versus establishing a trust. Initial and maintanence costs are a concern as these mineral rights have serious royalty potential but are not yet producing any. Hope this question wasn't too long-winded! Thanks

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  72. Hi Lynne,
    My parents and another related couple are planning to buy a house in Ontario for investment purposes.
    Can the title have four parties; my parents being joint tenants to their 50%
    and the realtives (husband and wife) being joint tenants to their 50%,
    however the two couples will be the Tenants-in-common?
    Is the statement true that, if anything happens to one of the spouse, then the surviving spouse will auotmatically
    own 50% of the property, and the remaining couple's 50% interest is not affected.

    If in the future either couple wants to change from joint tenancy to tenants-in-common, or want to selll their share, does this affect the other couples 50% interest in the property?
    Does the other couple need to be notifed of the change from joint tenancy to
    tenants-in-common?
    Thanks.

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  73. Hi Lynne
    Anonymous said...
    Can someone change from joint tenants to tenants in common without informing the other joint tenants? I am referring to 3 family members that have agreed upon joint tenancy - could one of the family members change the deed to tenants in common without informing the other two?? Without consent?
    April 21, 2010 4:53 PM
    What is law in BC? without consent?

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  74. Hi Lynne, I Live in Alberta, Canada and I live with a commonlaw partner. He has real estate property and is not divorced from his wife. The property is in Joint Tenants. We have a mortgage in both of our names if one passes away the debt goes to the other. If he dies before his spouse the property goes automatically to her. Is there any way I can get compensation for his share of the mortgage? He does not have any cash only yearly income from his property but when he dies, all income will go to his spouse. They have been separated for over 30 years but decided not to divorce for the inheritance of their property as they have 2 children and grandchildren. Can I not ask for 50% of the value increase from his share for the period of time (11 years presently)we are living together when he dies. I am not in his will how can I go about getting this if all his property is in Joint Tenancy.
    Thank you

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  75. Re: the common law partner who owns property with his legal wife

    Hi, thanks for your question. This is an interesting situation. If I understand your question correctly, there is a property owned by your CL and his wife, but you're paying part of the mortgage on it. That's a pretty good deal for them, not so great for you.

    There are a few things to consider here. First of all, you say you are not in his will. However, you have been living with him for 11 years. According to Alberta law, you and he are adult interdependent partners (fancy name for common laws, really). For the purposes of inheriting, your claim now supersedes that of his legal wife over any property in his estate. Since he has not made a will that accords with the law, this may not be what he is planning. This of course applies to property that is NOT held jointly. If he doesn't leave you anything under his will, you have an automatic right to apply to the court for a share of (or all of) his estate.

    Your question is "can I not ask". Who would you ask? As I mentioned above, you will have a priority claim over his estate, but the house isn't in his estate. This leaves you with a couple of options, but they are both lawsuits.

    You could try suing his wife, assuming she survives him, for unjust enrichment (i.e. she got an unfair benefit). That's a tough one, let me tell you.

    Another option would be making a claim against his estate for funds in the amount you contributed to the mortgage. This assumes that there is enough in the estate to pay it, and that there are no competing claims. There may also be an argument on whether your contribution is really the responsibility of the estate since the asset isn't in the estate (if his wife survives him).

    Neither of these seems like a positive prospect to me.

    If she passes away before him, that's another matter, because the jointly owned house will then be in his name only and controlled by his will.

    This would be easier to deal with while both he and his ex are alive, but would require their consent. As things stand right now, you stand to lose. It would be more fair if you were added as another joint tenant, but given what you've said about the children inheriting, that seems unlikely.

    Another option might be that he and she sever their title so that they are each a tenant in common. You could then be added to his half as a joint tenant just of his half. Again, this seems unlikely to meet with their approval as they are talking about the kids inheriting.

    To be honest, I'm not really buying this bit about not getting divorced having anything to do with inheriting or with the children. How would divorcing interfere with that? It would just mean that the property is in one name instead of two.

    Good luck with this.

    Lynne

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  76. Hello I have skimmed through all these examples but have not found anything similar to my situation any info would be great here is my story : Back in 2000 my father died he left in his will a home to my mother and I ( his son). My mother and i have continued to live in this home and are considered joint tenants. I have since run out of room and bought another home taking possession in the coming weeks. I am uncertain as to the tax implications involved if there are any? Obviously we are not planning to sell Either property for a while but if we were to see a significant rise in realestate and wanted to sell the property jointly owned because it would remain her principle residence but not mine would there be capital gains on my end? would I be better to transfer property over? what should I do? any help appreciated

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  77. Hi,
    Glad to see you're planning this stuff in advance so that you won't get stuck with a big tax bill.

    Yes, if you sell real estate that is not your principal residence, you will have to pay your share of the tax on the capital gain.

    If you and your Mom want to transfer the property from the two of you to just her alone, there won't be tax on that because it's currently your principal residence.

    Lynne

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  78. Hi Lynne, my two brothers and I were listed on title as "joint tenants" together with my mother when she revised the title to her Ontario summer camp nearly 20 years ago. Mom died last year. We are all US residents and citizens. What are we required to do now in Canada assuming my brothers and I keep the cottage (I hope nothing until some title activity like sale or selling to one of the brothers in the future)? And if we sell or severe the joint tenancy, are all the surviving joint tenants required to agree? Finally, what are the benefits of setting up what one attorney says is a great idea: "non-profit family retreat corporation" to better control rogue and uncooperative siblings? Rob

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  79. Hi,
    I am a joint owner of a cottage with my sister. We have never time shared the cottage. I would to start dividing the summer time into weeks to allow each family time alone at the cottage. My sister does not want to do this. What are my rights and what can I do to time for my family at the cottage?

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  80. Hi I live in Saskatchewan Canada In 2004 my father moved to BC and I rent his home in Sk. This home is not considered his principle residence. As he rents a condo in BC and files income tax in BC. He wants to change the title of his home over to my name. What are the legal and tax implication if any in doing this title transfer.

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  81. Re: time share with sister

    Remember that with a joint ownership, the other owner has the same rights that you do. So for everything you have the right to do, your sister has the right to veto. It is yet another of the hundred reasons I keep telling parents not to put the cottage in the name of both/all the kids.

    I don't think the solution you need is a legal or estate planning one. You're simply going to have to work it out. Frankly, it sounds like about time one of you bought the other one out, given that your wishes for the use of the property seem widely divergent.

    Lynne

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  82. Re: SK father in BC

    Before making any moves, perhaps you should follow up on the question of whether or not the house in SK is actually your father's principal residence. You said he is renting a place in BC. Does this mean that the house in SK is the only residence he owns? Talk to a tax accountant.

    If it turns out that you're correct that it's not his principal residence, he will have to pay capital gains tax when he transfers it to you, even if he "sells" it to you for $1. Again, talk to an accountant or a real estate lawyer to get advice specific to your situation.

    Lynne

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  83. Re: Joint tenants to tenants-in-common in BC

    Yes, it's possible to change from being joint owners to tenants in common in BC. Although your question refers to taking steps "without informing" the other owner(s), I'm reading that as without asking for their consent. Eventually, they're going to know, since their name is on the title. Yes it is possible in BC without their consent. I don't know enough about your specific situation to give you any specific advice, but I'm attaching a link below to an article that you might find extremely useful.

    http://www.duhaime.org/LegalResources/RealEstateTenancy/LawArticle-68/Joint-and-Common-Tenancies.aspx

    Lynne

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  84. what type of title should be on the home
    15 yrs ago my brother and my self agreed to buy a home at the time i put 10,000 down and he put 0.00 down,i was not put on the deed or the mtg he has full ownership as we agreed to a verbal family agreement of splitting household cost's 50/50 and both would live in the home while after a few yrs one partner the deed title holder decided to move out and stop all payments. the party that stayed within the home had to pick up the extra cost's and allowed the other partie full right to move in when ever they need to aslong as they kept up with payment while living within the home and a few other verbal agreements on cost's. after 15 yr the deed title holder decides to take out the profits and by a home and repair the joint home while repairs are done no one can live within the home and then fails to allow the joint party after 15 yrs of being in the home and paying 100% of mtg and land taxes back into the home and says to bad you will get 50% of the profits once its sold. what can i do as this has caused my family hardship and being left homeless.

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  85. I have a question about about an estate. My Father and his mother(my grandmother) jointly owned a house in Edmonton (2002) and she fell ill 4 years later (2006)and had to move to an extended care residence. They then decided to sell the house (2007)and my grandmother told my dad to keep the money but to make sure there was enough for her funeral expenses and to fulfil the requirements of her will. Another 3 years later (2010)my father passed away and then my grandmother passed (2011). My mother is the executrix on the will. My uncle (my grandmothers son) is now making a claim to receive the money from the sale of the house that took place 4 years ago. Does he have a claim?

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  86. I have also skimmed the comments on this page and haven't found anything similar to the situation that we are dealing with. The circumstances are as follows:

    My parents own 92 acres of land in Alberta (as joint tenants), and the plan has always been for myself and my future husband to put a second home on the property. We have been advised that we do not have to subdivide as we can place a second residence on the property as long as it is 80+ acres (which it is), and so we were waiting until I finished university to go ahead with our plans. The problem is this: Mom developed early-onset dementia and now lives in a nursing home, and Dad has full guardianship and trusteeship over her. We have been advised that Dad can't simply put me on the title so that I can register a mortage in these circumstances, for that would effectively take Mom's greatest asset and diminish it by one-third. So our plans have come to a stand-still. Unfortunately my Dad won't be able to keep the farm without me and my fiance living there (too much on his plate between working full time to pay nursing home bills, and caring for Mom on weekends when he brings her home), and so we're wondering if there is any solution to this problem? Dad has indicated that he's even willing to take his name off the title to the land and put my name on in his place (as Mom's "share" of the asset wouldn't be dimished), but wouldn't this amount to severing the joint tenancy?

    Any suggestions?

    T

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  87. Another complication is when a parent is a guarantor of a mortgage and a joint tenant. A friend is executor of his dad's estate, dad guaranteed a mortgage for his daughter but was only joint tenant with her. Now the estate is liable for the mortgage if she defaults but the estate no longer has the power of being on title. So until the estate is released from being guarantor, which cannot happen until the house is either sold or re-mortgaged, the estate must hold back the sum they could be liable for, so no one is getting their share of their inheritance any time soon. A nightmare.

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  88. My mother in law owned a cabin and in March of 2010 she put the names of her 4 sons on the title. I am assuming that they are joint tenants. She passed away in October of 2010 and in her will it says she give, device and bequeath her property at the lake to her four sons in equal share. How can that be when they are already registered owners of the property?

    We are now working on her estate and the accountants say that there is $15K of capitals gains payable on the cabin. Is this right that the total capital gains has to be paid or should it only be on 1/5 of the value. She did not sell but gifted.

    Also if one of the four sons wants to sell can he force the sale. Or if they rest do not wish to buy him out do they have to and if so do they have to at fair market value or offer him something.

    I know another cabin nightmare but any help would be appreciated.
    thanks,
    Sandie

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  89. Hello,

    Prior to my parents passing, my father tranferred ownership (sold for $2) the family cottage to myself and my two siblings.

    I am interested in new construction on the land for my family. There is enough land for a new cottage to neighbour the existing building.

    My question is: Can a tenant-in-common agreement be created which identifies ownership rights of the individuals? I would prefer a situation which outlines individual ownership of each specific building. I would like an arrangement where the three siblings remain tenants-in-common on the land, but individual, exclusive ownership is identified for each individual building.

    As I said the land is large enough to support three families, but I would like to build a specific cottage I can pass on solely to my kids without the hassle and grief of it being willed to extended family members.

    Thanks,
    John

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  90. I know you may have touched on this situation but if you could please clarify as it's becoming a stressful time.
    My mother recently passed away and has put my 2 older sisters as executors/trustee. In her will, everything is left 2 us 4 kids, properties, money in the bank and investments etc. but doesn't itemize anything. Her wishes(not mentioned in the will) were to have the house and life insurance to be split 4 ways and all monies in the bank and investments to be split between the 2 grandchildren. Back in 2002, my father passed away, caused a family riff with the 2 older sisters and us (us being my mother, sister and myself) in 2003 my mother changed the title of the house as joint tenants between the 3 of us (sister, mother and myself) not the 2 older sisters. Now that my mother is gone, is the house legally ours? Can the 2 older sisters contest it if we decided to keep the house and not split it 4 ways? Reason being, is that we have seen some things starting to surface like it did when my dad passed and we want to be able to say back off or else we are keeping the house if it goes that far...I truly hope it doesn't, but would like to be able to have the upper hand if it does. I know what my mother wants but if it came down to it do we have a leg to stand on and use it to push back? I believe she may have wrote by hand on the back of the will years later on her current wishes in general points but does that have any legal implications? I just want to know, how hard I can push back if it starts to get ugly or do we just sit and watch it happen all over again. Truly if it does go south, I would like to say the house is ours and will not be spilt 4 ways if it gets bad enough...thats if it's even possible.

    thanks for your help.

    Anonymous

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  91. Hi,

    For the second time in as many days I find myself answering a question that involves someone having wishes not expressed in the will. Hopefully everyone reading this post will realize what a bad idea it is to have a will that doesn't actually say what you want. What's the point?

    I'm not going to jump into the fray and give you or your siblings any ammunition for a fight, as that isn't what I do. However I am going to try to give you some answers to the estate questions you've raised.

    If the house was owned in joint tenancy by three people and one died, then the house is now owned by the two surviving people. However, this is no longer as simple as it used to be. Changes to the law a couple of years ago have resulted in joint property that is inter-generational (i.e. between a parent and child, as it is in your case) is not truly a joint ownership. The law says that you and your sister are holding that property in trust for the estate.

    The hand-written notes on the back of the will are interesting. Under certain circumstances they could be held to be valid, though that would be rare. The fact that it's in point form is ok. If the hand-written section is signed and dated, and is clearly understandable, it's possible that it could be held to be a hand-written codicil (amendment) to the will.

    This would be decided by the judge at the time the will was sent to the court for probate.

    I find it very sad that your family is gearing up for an estate fight, especially as you have already been through one. Perhaps you could consider having a mediator help all of you decide on a better way for this all to play out.

    Lynne

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  92. Hi Lynne,

    I have a question regarding probate? When an estate is probated does all assets fall under the probate or can some things be dealt with before hand such as banks, life insurance and investments and if something needs to be done through probate can we proceed at that time?
    Regarding the above comment regarding the joint tenancy of a house, if the executrix/trustee is not a joint tenant, who is responsible for selling the house? Would it e the joint tenant or the trustee?

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  93. Hello,

    Prior to my parents passing, my father tranferred ownership (sold for $2) the family cottage to myself and my two siblings.

    I am interested in new construction on the land for my family. There is enough land for a new cottage to neighbour the existing building.

    My question is: Can a tenant-in-common agreement be created which identifies ownership rights of the individuals? I would prefer a situation which outlines individual ownership of each specific building. I would like an arrangement where the three siblings remain tenants-in-common on the land, but individual, exclusive ownership is identified for each individual building.

    As I said the land is large enough to support three families, but I would like to build a specific cottage I can pass on solely to my kids without the hassle and grief of it being willed to extended family members.

    Thanks,
    John

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  94. Hi Lynne,

    I am just about to have my (soon to be) ex-wife's name removed from the title of our house, and my name will be removed from the title of the cottage (this is an expedient and fair way of settling property division). We have a separation agreement that outlines this.

    As soon as I have complete ownership of the house, my girlfriend of five years wants to then buy half the house. There is currently no mortgage on the house. I will own it outright. I have no desire to hold a mortgage, so she will be seeking to get financing for a mortgage (which will not be a problem, she has an excellent credit rating ...a high paying job and a decent down payment saved).

    I have two children (ages 16 and 11) and want to ensure that my share of the house goes to them ...so I will likely be seeking to have the house owned as "tenants in common". Is this the correct approach? How do I protect myself against mortgage liability if she has a mortgage and my half is mortgage free? Advice would be welcome. Many thanks.

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  95. Hi Lynne,

    I am in a common law relationship with a man who has two children. I have one child. We own a home together as tennants in common. Would my daughter receive half of the house while his daughters split the other half if both partners were to die? what would happen with regard to my portion of the house should I die? How will my common law partner be expected to provide my child's inheritance to her?

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  96. Hi Lynne
    I live in B.C. and am thinking of buying a residential rental property with my investments if I put my wife on title as a joint tenancy could she decide in the future to make this a tenants in common with out my consent which could leave me in a situation of not totally owning this property if she were to pass & have her share go to somebody else in a will

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  97. My father past away last year 2010. In 2005 my mom and dad took out a mortgage on their condo. My mom thought this money was to be a cushion for them (they where in their early 80's). They where not qualified to get mortgage insurance due to their age. We have found out that my dad paid off all of his debt with this money (in 2005) and without the consent of my mom. With my dad passing the income for my mom has now been cut in half. Is my mom responsible for the full debt of this mortgage? There are both signatures on the mortgage.

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  98. Concerned for spouseAugust 20, 2011 at 8:33 PM

    My wife is listed as a tenant in common on the title of her Fathers house. Her sister is listed in a copy of the will, the house is left to her. If I've read this right my wife keeps her 50% of the house and her sister gets 50% of the house, they can do what they wish with the house thereafter?

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  99. Hi Concerned,

    Yes, you're right. Your dad-in-law can only give away what he owns, and if they are tenants-in-common he only has half to give away. As for doing what they wish afterwards, well, that's the theory as each can legally dispose of her half as she sees fit, but in reality it's usually a nightmare. It's not easy to sell half a house.

    Lynne

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  100. Hi Lynne

    Back in 1994, My wife and I bought a 4 cottage property in Manitoba with my sister and her two sons. We each took one of the cottages and each received a document with 1/4 Title from the municipality.

    Since then, My wife and I have been divorced and I took ownership of the Cottage and she took the house. I am now the only person on the 1/4 Title.

    Since the divorce, I live in the cottage as my home. I'm tired of the 4hour daily return commute, and want to sell my Cottage and 1/4 property. The three other cottages have remained relatively the same, where I have completely rebuilt a new "home" and the value has increased substantially.

    My few questions are:

    1: Can I sell this 1/4 Title and the Cottage? (I assume I can, My wife sort of sold her share to me when we settled the separation agreement and she was removed from the title)

    2: If my Sister and my two nephews don't want to purchase it because its worth more than they are likely able to pay, (fair market value or slightly less) can I sell it to a non family member? The general public?

    Thank you Lynne
    Charlie

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  101. Hi Charlie,

    Without seeing a copy of the title, I couldn't say for sure, but it sounds as if your title is tenant-in-common as opposed to joint owner with right of survivorship. If that is the case, and if there is no WRITTEN side agreement about what you agreed to do with the property, then yes you can sell to whoever you want. It would be nice of you to offer it to your sister and nephews though. PS now that you are divorced - update your will!

    Lynne

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  102. Hi Lynne,
    I've read thru the other posting but haven't seen a situation like mine. My boyfriend and I are buying a house. The mortgage will be in his name only as he makes more and there is no need to add my income to it. We will be sharing all expenses equally and the house belongs to both of us. We sent the title in to be registered in both names. However because his name is on the mtg, the title can only be registered in his name. He thinks it's great for me becasue I'm not legally obligated on the mtg, however I'm concerend about down the road if something happens to him (death). Where does that leave me as far as owning the home?? And what are my rights over is parents and siblings as far as that goes. They won't fight for it, but I want to be smart about this before I plunge into anything without thinking. Can you please advise? Your help with this would be greatly appreciated.

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  103. Hi Lynne

    Thanx for responding back to me (Charlie).

    You are probably right, being a tenant in common. I'm not sure to be exact, it says "Charles Last Name" is registered owner of an undivided 1/4 interest subject to such entries recorded hereon in the following described land: and then it lists the lot and block etc..

    I had a realistate agent look at the property yesterday, and today they called and said that they had a client with a simular situation a few years ago and they had tentatively sold the property, but the buyers lawyer talked them out of it because of "joint ownership" liablitly issues. i.e. someone slipping off of one of the person's deck, all land owners were equally responsible.

    The realistate agent declined to list the property and suggested putting a co-operative agreement in place and then list it.

    I just don't know how hard it would be to get my sister and her two boys to sign any kind of formal agreement. Especially knowing I would likely sell right away.

    Any thoughts or suggestions Lynne?

    Much appreciated.
    Charlie

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  104. Hi Lynne. Great posts. Here's another one:
    My wife's parents moved out of Montreal into a condo in Toronto be be closer to their children. At the time, they being short of assets and elderly, offered the three siblings to co-own the condo by sharing the cost of purchse. The elderly parents put down $50k but only my wife came forward and guaranteed the. Mortgage . Her siblings backed away for various reasons. She arranged to loan her parents the monthly mortgage amount with the idea that this would come back through the estate as a loan on record. The parents don't want to add my wife to the deed and after reading these posts, I am not sure that it would protect her investment . The father's intention is to leave his estate to the siblings equally while signing a statement of loan with my wife at the end of each year stipulating the amount of debt to date. I see lots of pitfalls here, even if the siblings cooperate and we are seeking estate legal help with this matter on our own. Can you give us some insight into where we go with this to protect our loan and sanity within the family? Thanks jef.

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  105. Re: Boyfriend's name on the property

    If his is the only name on the property, then you and he are not buying a house. He is buying a house. You're not buying anything. However it sounds as if you will be paying for half of its operating costs.

    If he dies while his name is the only one on the title, his house will fall into his estate. Hopefully he has a will leaving it to you. Otherwise, you will only get what the laws of intestacy of your province say you will get.

    A couple of Canadian provinces still have dower rights which allow a married person to live in the home for life after the spouse has died, but as you are not married, even if you live in one of those provinces that right doesn't exist for you.

    You're basically completely unprotected in terms of keeping your home if he passes away. I'm glad you looked into this before eveything is all signed up.

    Lynne

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  106. Hi Lynne,
    My father transferred 3+ acres of lakefront property in Ontario to my sister and I(tennancy in Common). Currently there is a bunkhouse on the property and I wish to build a cottage on the land. My sister who battles alcoholism vascilates between supporting my dream of a cottage and then turning against me and saying she will not permit it. Am I entitled to build on it without her consent? Will she have any rights to my cottage if I build it and pay for it myself?

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    Replies
    1. If the property is tenancy in common, I know you can go a a lawyer and get a deed for your half of the property but you have to bring the deed with you to the lawyers for the desciption and any other legal documents showing your entitlement. I know because my mother had this done.
      i don't know about building on it. You have to go through the town or township you are in but I sure would get a deed in your own name for your own half.

      Delete
  107. hi Atty. lynn,
    I have read thru the ex but got no similar situation.
    Heres the situation:

    2 years ago my mother-in-law passed away..She bought a house with his brother..she owned 25%...she has 3 kids

    The brother decided to sell the property..But decided to just sell 70% to us (me and the sisters son).So we did.the house is under my name

    Now he still have that 25% of my mother-in-law that is to be divided to her children..after we paid him the 70% of the house he gave 2 chidren 22,000 each but didnt gave my husbands share.
    By the way there is no will and my mother-in-laws husband is still alive.
    We are already went to a lawyer.He called our lawyer first saying he put it on the house..then he said its a gift what he gave the sisters.
    Atty..we jaz want him to give my husbands share of the inheritance.
    He wants us to buy him out (he wants more money)
    he is not his share with the hydro and the house tax.
    I am caught in between...i do not want to sell my house i just bought it and this guy is screwing us left and right.My husband didnt think that his own ucle will be so greedy to screw his own nephew.We even paid him more that we should.My mistake was that i didnt held my ground to put everything in paper.
    The house was 250,000 we bought 70%.we are suppose to give him only 175,000.but we gave 191,000 (written in the deed of sale) but we kept his hare at 30%
    we paid his debts so i added that to the payment of the house.

    anyways i just want to know if there is way we can get what is due to my husband and at the same time get him out of my house without selling it and giving him more money..thank you very much.

    jb

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  108. Hi - There are 5 siblings on the title as joint tenants. My question is can one sibling rent out his house that is on the property without having to share the rent with the other siblings? The original farm house is rented and the rent is shared by all siblings.

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  109. In 2009 I moved into a home with my mother and son who obtained a mortgage as I was unable to at the time due to a bankrupcy. The agreement at the time was we were to all live in the home (my mother and myself upstairs, my son downstairs with his girlfriend) Everything split in half. Upstairs /downstairs paying 1/2 mortgage, bills, etc) Less that one year later, I sold a property and had 28000 dollars. At that time my mother and I were not getting along. I advised that I was moving out and was finished with the arrangement. She insisted she couldn't afford it and I wound up paying her 24,000 towards the money she put down for the purchase (my son put in nothing) and she moved. I have stayed and continued to pay 1/2 of everything, plus make improvements to the property for which I have the bills. The mortgage has come out of my bank account since the beginning as have the bills. My son now thinks I should move out since it's his name on the title (and my mothers) with nothing. I refuse and he keeps threatening that he can get me out. What are my rights?

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  110. Are signatures required from both parties to transfer investment asset ownership from a joint tenants with rights of survivorship to a sole account?

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  111. Hello,

    I'm 30 years old and my father passed away when I was 13. My parents were married during this time. When my dad passed the house went to her and we have resided there since. Recently my mom was notified that her mortgage was paid off. Attached to this notice is what appears to be a summary of land title info. I noticed that the title still states his name, but I don't see hers anywhere. Is this a problem? Can we simply go down to the land titles offices and have this info updated?

    Thanks,
    Melissa

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  112. Hi Melissa,
    I answered your question as a new blog post on October 30, 2011.

    Lynne

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  113. Hi Lynne,

    Our family property with two houses is jointly owned by my bachelor brother, my two sons and myself. This property has been in the our family for six generations with the seventh generation already on the horizon. One home is occupied by my brother. The other 104 year old home was renovated by my eldest son. He now lives there with his girlfriend of two years and his twelve year old son from a former relationship.
    My concern is over the Homesteads Act. In the horrible event that my eldest son passes away, my daughter-in-law automatically has homestead rights and a life estate.
    Under normal circumstances the Homesteads Act definitely serves it's purpose but it is unfathomable that the girlfriend, soon to be wife, COULD live out her days on OUR family property and there's nothing we can do once it happens.
    My concern is how to ensure that family only will continue to enjoy and control the property.
    In the event that my future daughter-in-law refuses to sign a Release of Homestead Rights, it will be too late. What legal action could I take, NOW, to prevent her from acquiring those rights. Thank you, Phoebe

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  114. Hi, my mom speak very little English as well as her ex-bf. They brought a home together as joint tendent and lived as common law from 2000 to 2007.

    The down payment was made by my grandparents on my mother side (60K). Her ex-bf claims he and my mom paid my grandparents off, but he can't proof that.

    Her ex-bf moved out in 2007 and she kept the home because she had children. She went to the lawyer and the lawyer told her she can keep living there, so she did (without separation agreement).

    My mom gave her ex-bf 8k when he left and they both got a car, but there were no separation agreement written, just a verbal agreement that he moved out and gave everything to her.

    Now 4 years later the home is worth more money and my mom and I been paying off the mortgage. The 5 yr mortgage is about to renew and that's the time we found out we need his approval. Her ex-bf now wants half of the money.

    Is there anyway around this without going to trail? If we sold the home we would get 80K, divide that and its 40K. I think it's too risky to fight in court with a verbal agreement... I don't know what to do. We don't care about the home, just the money we paid the past 4 yr when he left and he paid nothing.

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  115. Hi Lynne:
    My son purchased a house 2 1/2 years ago with his then girlfriend. Things didn't go well and she left after 5 months. He has rented rooms out and has paid 95% of the bills since then (she pays $100 per month by agreement) She wants out of the mortgage to clear her credit.None of her money went into the down payment. He has a live-in relationship with another woman and they have been approved for a mortgage by a major bank. The former girlfriend agrees to release herself from the title, but the mortgage co., MCAP, holds a closed mortgage with a 5 year term. Can the existing joint tenants "sell" to new joint tenants that include my son, one of the original joint tenants?

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  116. Hi everyone,

    Many of the questions and comments I have received on this thread are really not about estate planning at all. My specialty is not in real estate transactions; it's in estate planning. I recommend that those of you with questions about mortgages, common law relationships and other real estate matters find a lawyer who specializes in personal (as opposed to commercial) real estate law.

    Lynne

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  117. Hi Lynne:

    My question is how would I go about removing my mother's name from the Joint Tenants on the Fee Simple Title to our house. Would I need to go to a notary or could I do this on my own.

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  118. Live in BC. Bought a house 2008 with my husband as joint tenant. We have a friend who co-signed in order that we qualify for mortgage. We put a down payment of 20,000 and paid the mortgage for 2 years. The co-signer is not a registered owner. 2010 co-signer wants to buy her own condo but can't qualify due to our mortgage. So we agreed to put her in title. We signed a trustee agreement to transfer 1% interest to her as joint tenant so she can pay the home grant,pay the tax and the mortgage. She paid the mortgage for 1 year only. We had a verbal agreement to divide the profit fairly but problem arises. We sold our house now. How do we divide the profit? based on the land title that states that co-signer has 1% joint tenancy and us with 99% joint tenancy or based on the trustee agreement that states she is the sole owner. The land title and the trustee agreement was both made by the same lawyer on the same day.

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  119. Hello Lynne;
    I have several properties with my father and 2 of those properties are registered as Tenants in Common. We paid 50/50 for the houses which we rent out. If something was to happen to my father - what would happen to the 50% (his share) - what/who will decide?
    2. I am thinking of changing the properties to Joint Tenancy - is this possible to do and if so approx how much does it cost and is this what you recommend?
    I only have one other sibling.
    Thanks in advance.

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  120. I have a question regarding if my husband's Public Trustee can make me sell my home and give him half of the profits in Saskatchewan? Also, how do I go about consolidating debt onto my mortgage and when it comes to refinancing in a year, will a Public Trustee then make me sell the house? We have both names on the title but I am the only one making the payments, paying taxes,upkeep of the home as my husband's only source of income comes from his CPP and that goes towards his stay at a long term care home.

    Paula M.

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  121. Hi Lynne.
    About 5 1/2 years ago, my sister brought her boyfriend, a sometime developer/investor/architect, to live with her, her 2 sons and my mom in my mom's home. My father passed away 16 years ago and my mom didn't want to live by herself so my sister and her 2 sons moved in. Mom is now 83 years old. This guy and my sister worked on her until she decided to help him out with his "projects" & let him be joint tenant on her property. He promised her that within 5 yrs he would build her a new home on the property that would be double the value it is now, which would be a 2 million dollar home. Apparently, he and his lawyer told her that her will she had drawn up, leaving her share to her children, would be upheld in the event of her death. To this date, there has been no new home built, the old one is falling over and in the past 5 years, he has taken out and paid off 7 mortgages of a million dollars each time. The latest mortgage taken out in 2009 was for about 1/2 a million and it was a 5 yr one. I tried to tell my mom and if she passes away, he will get everything. She was ill-advised, afraid and not making sound decisions. Because I live in another country, it is difficult for me to have any impact on her decisions when my sister and he are influencing her everyday, making her think they will leave her if she doesn't do as they say. It is elder abuse and my other siblings believe that he is a Ponzi schemer as he consistently gets other investors to pay off his previous investors and has not completed any development projects in 5 yrs, lots of talk, but no action. He has however, bought himself 2 new BMWs (all in his name), a $75,000 Hawaiian time share,a boat,a trailer, Italian designer clothes, and has taken many expensive vacations. Once in a while, he'll give my mom a $100 or so to gamble at a casino or buy her a hat. He has told my mom that she needs to cut my 3 siblings out of her will as they don't visit anymore. They don't visit because of him and are so disgusted and distraught that my mom puts this guy above her own children. We are at our wits end and don't know where to turn. My younger sister contacted the RCMP fraud dept but they said that there are too many cases like this and not enough bodies to help out. I am afraid that this guy will talk her into giving him power of attorney next. Do we have any recourse? Thanks for any info you can give us. Best regards,

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  122. Hi Lynne - My sister-in-law and I have a question about Joint Tenancy in Alberta. Our husbands are brothers and they each own 40 acres as joint tenants with their parents - these 40 acres are owned separately and have the homes we live in on them. We are wondering how easy is it to get our names added as joint tenants to these properties and what the consequences are as far as Capital Gains and what may happen to our husbands parents as far as their pensions are concerned - will this sale to us cause their pensions to decrease or is there even a sale to us?

    Thank you,

    Brenda and Donna

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  123. Hi Lynne,
    Thanks for doing this; it's really helpful and informative.
    I own a property in Ontario as one of 5 joint tenants. My spouse is not one of the owners and therefore would not inherit any interest in the property if I predecease her. To remedy this, I want to convey my ownership to my wife and me as joint tenants and change the relationship with the other 4 owners to tenancy in common. How do I proceed? Do the other current joint tents have to be informed and/or give their consent?

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  124. Hi there, can I see the form of the tenancy from the certificate of title?

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  125. Hi Lynne,
    I have been recently added as joint tenant on my dads home after my mom passed away.(House total market value 360,000, my 1/2 180,000) Question: As joint tenant, if I decide to sell the house sometime later (not my principle residence) after his death for 460,000. Will capital gains implications be based on the original full market value or my original 1/2 value?
    Thank you ..great blog

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  126. Hi Lynne,

    My spouse and I currently own our home as joint tenants. When we purchased the home my mom contributed to 50% of the purchase. But the lawyer did not put her on title (still kicking myself for that one). Instead my husband and I signed a letter stating the that she has the right to 50% ownership. If we divorce would this letter hold up in court.

    Your insight would be greatly appreciated.

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  127. Hi my dad is very ill and wont likely be with us much longer I am afraid our problem is he owes alot in credit card debt... soley his debt .The only asset in his estate is the house he and my mom share .It is fully paid for mortgage free and her principal residence.. both names on the title.. we are afraid the credit card company can take the house as she cant make the payments on the balance owing to them ,any idea what our options may be?

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  128. Hi, I answered this last question as a new blog post on Feb. 1, 2012.

    Lynne

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  129. Hi Lynne,

    Is it possible to specify in your will that a piece of property that is in both spouse's name not be developed (remain undeveloped) after you die?
    Let me know.
    Thanks

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  130. My mom and dad were joint tenants in a 50% interest in a duplex and they were tenants in common with my sister and her husband who had the other 50% share. After my mom passed away, dad added my sister as joint tenant to his portion. He did this to avoid probate fees after he is gone. His intention is covered in a will whereby his full interest (50% share of duplex) is to be split between my sister and me. Is his will valid or will my sister automatically get his full 50% of the duplex and I am left with nothing?

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  131. Hi my son and his wife have recently separated and my daughter has taken over her sister-in-laws share of the house. a new mortgage was taken out between my son and daughter and they n ow hold the house as tenants in common. My son now wants to sell the house and has told my daughter she has no claim on the property as she only took it over from his wife. My daughter would like to buy her brother's share of the property, would she need a deposit to do this?? Also can my son sell the property without my daughters agreement?

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  132. Hi, I'm sorry if this question has been answered already, but I didn't see a similar situation in the comment thread. My Father passed away a few months ago and he and my mother (who were divorced) owned a house as tenants in common. In his will he left everything to myself and my two siblings in equal shares. My mother is currently living in the house, however cannot afford the costs associated on her own and expects us to pay "our half" of the costs. She is also not in favor of selling the house. I feel the house should just be sold so as to be done with everything, however as I only own 1/6 share, do I have any say in this? Would I need to get my siblings on my side in order to have any sway?

    Thanks in advance.

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  133. My spouse and I currently own our home as joint tenants. When we purchased the home my mom contributed to 50% of the purchase. But the lawyer did not put her on title (still kicking myself for that one). Instead my husband and I signed a letter stating the that she has the right to 50% ownership(in a form of a Trust Agreement). If we divorce would this letter hold up in court.

    Your insight would be greatly appreciated

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  134. I personally am about to apply for a tax amnesty. I will probably owe a large sum of money in personal back taxes when things are said and done. Would it be wise to sever our joint tenancy in our house to protect my wifes half interest. thanks for ant information

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  135. Hi Lynne,
    I live in Ontario and we own a house as tenants in common with a friend of ours. He has recently sold his half of the house (all one deed), and another friend of ours has bought it. My question is, how is land transfer tax handled on a property like this? We are all one deed, so when the new tenants in common move in will the land transfer tax be based on what they bought him out for and something that only they pay (since we already paid ours when we moved in)? Or do we pay again to stay in our house? (which doesn't seem right!)

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  136. Hi Lynne:
    Thanks for your great blog. I wonder if you could share your insights on the following issue. My father and grandmother were placed on title of the family cottage that was purchased over 35 years ago. Up until recently, they had believed that the cottage was held as a joint tenancy with right of survivorship. It turns out, however, that the cottage deed lists them as tenants in common rather than joint tenants. This was unfortunately discovered after grandmother's recent passing. My question is whether it would be possible (or if there is any case law to this regard) to retrospectively declare the tenancy as one of joint tenancy, rather than tenancy in common. I ask because it seems to me that the unities that characterize joint tenancy are met in this case (ie, they purchased the cottage together, at the same time, had the same 50% interest accruing under the same conveyance, and intended the arrangement to be one of joint tenancy with ROS). Other relevant information is that they were new immigrants with limited command of the english language at the time of purchase, so that the possibility of a language barrier/misunderstanding cannot be rules out; and, grandma's will passed on her entire estate to my father as the sole beneficiary, so that the end result with regard to inheritance and benefit is essentially unchanged; notwithstanding probate taxes being payable under the tenants in common scenario. Is it too late to right this error or could something still be possible? And if so, what is the probability of success? Thanks in advance for your insights and suggestions.

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  137. Hi Lynne,

    My mother left her home in Nova Scotia to my sister and me in her will. My sister and I are joint owners not tenants in common. My mother, my sister and I are listed on the deed. Mother is now deceased and my sister wants to sell. I do not,nor do I want to buy her out.Can she force the sale of the house? We live in Massachusetts and have used the house as a vacation home.

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  138. My husband and I own our home as tenants in common, and would like to change the ownership to joint tenants.
    How do we do that, and are there tax or other consequences?
    We applied for an increased home equity loan and Scotia bank uses First Canadian title. I was told by Scotiabank they can only handle changes to joint tenant titles. I originally used tenants in commom to protest my interest in the property because we were not married, but this is no longer needed

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  139. In regards to the question on changing from tenants in common to joint tenants on the ownership with my husband, my province of residence is Alberta

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  140. I am 'joint-tenants' with my ex-husband on our home. We never split this asset because he was dealing with a disorder and could not work full time, I wanted to ensure he could continue living in the house and have no pressure financially or to move. I just found out he is getting married. I am concerned that his soon to be new wife has some rights once they marry. The home is in BC and we both live in BC. Can he change the 'joint tenant' title without telling me? I want to ensure that if something happened to him...his new wife does not have right to the home. What are your suggestions to ensure I am protecting myself?

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  141. Our mother left the family home to my 3 siblings and myself. Each of us is listed "as to an undivided 1/4 interest". Can I conclude that this is "tenants in common", as the title certificate does not specifically say that? If this is correct, am I able to "give up" my share as I see fit? ie: sell to an outside party, give to another already on title, etc.? I appreciate your response.

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  142. My mother passed away this March. She did not have a will. My father passed away 3 weeks later and he had a will. He made his will before the mother died. Therefore, his will should not cover this 50% mother's share of the property. Both of them had a property in Burnaby under joint tenancy of value approx. $600,000.- Due to short time and even probete has not been arranged, i.e. land title has not been changed. My mother was in care home since 2006. Three years ago, I was in competition to the father as mother's committee that I was being appointed as committee by the court. During the competition process, the father did declare the mother had 50% share of the property as her asset, also the father stated in his affidavit that the mother's legal address was the address of care home; also the father did try to prevent other family members to visit the mother which was a big concern of the judge. On the committee court order, it has been specifically that the committee should not touch the said property that the father and mother shared. Question: if the joint tenancy has been broken? and if the property is now 100% belong to the beneficier due to joint tenancy? Or alternatively this mother's 50% share should be equally distribute amonst her next-of-kin law?

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  143. My brother and I have purchased a duplex and we are considered to be"joint tenants" Now I was wondering if we would be able to change to "tenants in common" providing both of us agree. If the answer is yes, would I be able to sell my half of the duplex? (Ontario)
    thanks

    ReplyDelete
  144. Hi Lynne,
    My wife and I are having a will done. We want joint tenancy to save on the probate hassles. I want my wife to have the house for as long as she wants. I have one daughter from a previous marriage. I want her to get a portion whenever my wife sells, which she thinks would be soon after but who knows. Can this be done by a written agreement between my wife and my daughter and should it be stated as a lump sum or as a percentage.

    ReplyDelete
  145. Hi...ty for doing this...most appreciated!
    My question is my mom assisted my common in law hubby & me get a house with the mortgage under her nane & down payment as part of my inheritance. I am listed as joint tenancy on both this property & also on my moher's home. I have now lost my mom...the plan was always 2 b to add my hubby...now there is a problem...
    My hubby has an estranged daughter & I would prefer that if something happens to me first...that my hubby could remain in the house until he chooses to liquidate it, @ that time I would like my share to return to my estate. If something happens to him first he would like me to have his share. Would the best thing for us to be Tenants in Common...with hubby entering me with right of survivorship...or would we both require a will stating our wishes...I hold other assets that I will have to provide for in a will...however, he doesnt. Would this simplify everything or make it more complicated...sigh...getting confused with all the ins & outs...we reside in BC
    Ty so much for some enlightenment!!!

    ReplyDelete
  146. Hi Lynne:
    I own a 22% share of an Ontario farm property in which the 6 owners all have unequal shares in the farm and it is held as Tenants in Common. Some time after I purchased my share in the farm, the group purchased solar panels for this farm and all payed an equal amount to install the panels. The income from these panels is divided equally among the 6 owners. Unfortunately no solar agreement was set up when the panels were installed. I am interested in now selling my 22% share in the property. Is this share now 22% of the increased value of the farm property (ie land plus solar panels), or do I need to get the land and the solar panels appraised separately to determine my share of the total value of the farm?

    ReplyDelete
  147. My Mother, brother and his wife are tenants in common on a cottage property. My brother divorced and bought his wife's share. My Mother has just signed her share over to me. My brother now says I only own half of my Mother's 1/3 ownership when she signed it over to me. Is this correct?

    ReplyDelete
  148. If your mother owned 1/3 of the title, and her entire 1/3 was transferred to you, then you should own 1/3. There is no automatic reason why you would only get half of what you thought you were getting. Not having seen the title, I can't say for sure what you own, but check it and see whether it says "an undivided one-third interest", as it should. If it says you only own one-sixth, then you had better look back to the Transfer of Land that your mother signed. If the transfer says "one third" then there is an error in the title that needs to be corrected. However, it's possible that the transfer document was incorrect and nobody noticed. Did you have any of it checked over by a lawyer before you went ahead?

    Lynne

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  149. I established a family trust in which myself, my wife, my son and my daughter are beneficiaries. While my wife is also a trustee, the trust is structured so that I have sole discretion on how any proceeds are dispersed and of the trust itself. I am purchasing a vacation property, and the accepted offer names myself, my wife, and the family trust as the buyers. It will be paid for 100% through a low interest loan that I only need to make payments on the interest for an indefinite term. My idea was to have the family trust as the owner of the property, but because the family trust has to "die" and its affairs wrapped up every 21 years, I was thinking that a Joint Tenancy with the trust and myself and possibly my wife named as joint tenants, might be a good idea. This may be a screwball idea, but instead of having to diperse any capital gains when the trust is wrapped up at 21 years, could the trusts interests simply pass to myself and my wife as the survivors - avoiding a capital gains disposition that would have to occur if the trust only owned the property?

    ReplyDelete
  150. My husband and I were joint tenants. After separation (no formal agreement) my husband "sold" me his half of the house, releasing the title to me, and used that money to build another home, which he designated as not being a family residence. My name is not on a title. We are still married. If we reconcile and live together in a new home, does my name have to be added to the title in order to have a share in a property? Can I later claim a share without being added to the title?

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  151. I own a property as tenants in common with an ex husband that is registered as 50% each. We purchased before marriage, had an uncontested divorce over 7 years ago. We never resided together in any home so technically there was never a matrimonial home. He abandoned the property and marriage within the first month and has never paid taxes, heat, hydro, insurance or maintenance on this property. We have owned it approx 8 years and for the last 6 I have resided in it. It was initially purchased for us to live in and sell on retirement but as stated above we never got that far. I would like to sell this property now and he has agreed. How are monies divided when this property is sold ? I am content to share the proceeds upon sale 50/50. Does it matter who contributed what when it was originally purchased ?

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  152. I live in a home registered as tenants in common 50% each with another party. I keep home insurance on this property and someone broke their leg on the property and is now sueing me. Is the other owner 50% liable or am I 100% liable ?

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  153. We have a family cottage that we all used growing up. At some point my widowed mother made my 2 sisters, my brother and I joint tenants of this property, My relationship with my brother has always been contentious and over time my one sister and her partner have been using this property as their own private resort. My mother has continued to pay all bills and taxes associated with the property with my sister doing upkeep. I stopped going due to my sister continueing to treat me as a guest on her property. Fast forward to my mom now in a nursing home with failing health now sending me and my other sister emails requesting that we file quit claims to allow my sister and brother to be sole joint owners of the property. I now have grandchildren and do not live far from this property so am very reluctant to give up interest in this beautiful property. Any advice?

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  154. I have a house the mortgage is 100% in my name but he is on title,it is tenants in common.He has passed away about 8 months ago and now the estate wants me to buy them out.I am not prepared to do that at this time can the force me to sell or is there a time frame that i can wait before buying them out.Origanal we bought this for a investment property.Thanks

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  155. my huband and his mom have a house to gether thay are joint tenents and his mom have past away know his brother and sister want him to sell the house dose he have to

    ReplyDelete
  156. After getting married for almost 3 years, husband and wife put down payment together to purchased a house, but the title of the house is only under the wife's name. What will happen if the husband or wife pass away during marriage? What will happen if they get divorced?

    ReplyDelete
  157. Hi Lynne,
    Please advise. 1.My father died many years ago, and Mom has been remarried for 22 years now. They are tenants in common on their home. If our step-dad passes away does my mom than have to pay pobate fees on their home. 2. My sister and Mom have a joint account at the bank. Should my Mom be diagnosed with dementia and be required to go into as assissted living home, would the gov't use this money to pay for her care? Even though my sister and Mom are jointly on the bank account? Thanks for any and all advise, Jeanette

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jeannette,
      Yes, if a tenant-in-common passes away, title to the house is governed by the will. This means that it must be included in the inventory of the estate, and therefore included in the cost of probate. However, your mom doesn't pay the probate fees; the estate itself pays them from estate assets. As for your sister and Mom having a joint account, I can only say that this is usually a disaster waiting to happen. It's never clear whether the funds are truly jointly owned when they are inter-generational like that, so without some proper documentation there is a good chance that there is going to be a court application of some kind to clarify ownership after your Mom passes away. Whether or not the funds will be used to pay for her care will depend on the question of ownership or right of survivorship, but also on provincial rules. The rules are not the same from province to province.

      Lynne

      Delete
  158. Hi Lynne:
    I am a Certified Financial Planner, and have a client that has a cashable GIC through TD Canada Trust, that is registered jointly with her husband as "Joint without right of survivorship". In 35 years in the financial business, I have never seen "without" in a registration before. What does it mean?

    ReplyDelete
  159. Hi,

    I am tenant in common on hunting property in Ontario, Canada and wonder what the legal position is regarding decision making such a logging the property?

    ReplyDelete
  160. Hi Lynne;
    I have added my daughter's name to the majority of my bank accounts and been told that they are marked 'with rights to survivorship'. We live in Ontario. I have asked my daughter to do whatever she's sees fit with the money which includes sharing some with my son. My son is bad with money. Would I still need to put in my will that the money is her's to spend as she wants?

    ReplyDelete
  161. Hi,
    Haven't seen this question addressed, so hope you can help.
    After my father died, my mother sold her home and split the money between my brother and myself. He bought a home and I invested my share. Since then I married and bought a home with my new husband. My mother lives with us. The house is setup as my husband and myself as joint tenants owning 20%, and my mother and my daughter as joint tenants owing 80% - the two sets of joint tenants are setup as tenants in common. The 80% was actually paid for by me with my inheritance, but was setup that way so that my new husband wouldn't automatically own the whole house if I died or take 50% if we split (he actually only put in 7%). My mother is quite ill right now and wondered if I could be joint tenants with my daughter for 80%, while still being joint tenants with my husband for 20%. It's a matrimonial home.

    ReplyDelete
  162. Is it possible for someone who owns a home by themselves to get married or have a family member BECOME a joint tenant? I see wives added all the time as join tenants but I thought they had to come on title at the same time? Are they removed from title and then transferred together onto it? How does one do that?

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure, a person can be added at any time. If A owns a house and wants to add B as a joint owner, the transfer actually goes from A to A+B.

      Lynne

      Delete
  163. Hi, We recently found out about this joint tenancy vs tenants in common. Because we are a blended family we changed our title from joint tenancy to tenancy in commom. Our old land title says joint tennants but our new land title just says owners in fee simple with no mention of tenancy in commom. Is this the way it is suppose to be qritten?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think should be Black or White. If you are now the owner, have you been paying the bills incurred? There is only called "Right" and or "Wrong". If you just assumming the Water was cold; you Jump! But, actually is Hot.

      Delete
  164. Hi Lynne,

    I live in BC. I own a House as a Joint Tenant 2003. My husband, decide to live in Africa, found a young African girl; then after 3/yrs. I filed a Divorce. He refuse to sign and he did not cooperate to seatled; then he died in Thailand in Heart Attack in March 2003. My questions; at this point it has been 3/yrs. The Estate ex-family hired a family lawyer, to continue a divorce process; and what they we're trying to do; is to get half of my House. Besides this House is Joint in Teanant, I been paying the Mortgage / all the Maintenance, in order to keep the House. But, my ex-family hire (2) lawyers, and kept treatening me that the House to be "Tenant in Common" can anybody change the Land Title to Tenant in Common after my Husband died?

    ReplyDelete
  165. Hi Lynne,

    How long legally, a lawyer would kept the Estate Accounts, after Probate? in BC.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another questions:
      It is a Lisence Lawyers, in BC, can legally put a Liens in someone's House / property; for unknown and or undisclosed bills? ...without a proper legal Judgement from the Court?

      Delete
    2. Forever...hoping the family forget about it.

      Delete
  166. Hi Lynne,

    My husband and I are currently planning to co-own a house in Toronto with his Aunt who owns her property outright. The house is in disrepair and the agreement is that we pay for a rebuild (which will cost about the same or more as the property is worth now) She will live here as long as she can and if she needs to move to a nursing home, we would rent her apartment to help pay for that. We are to inherit her portion. However, we are unsure of the best way to legalize this. If we are joint tenants, we run the risk that our daughter inherits nothing should my husband and I pass away before the aunt. If we are tenants in common, the aunt could change her will or it could be contested by other relatives in probate. Of course, everyone says this won't happen but I want to guarantee it won't. We have talked about my husband and I being joint tenants with each other and the aunt as a tenant in common, possibly owning a smaller % (lowering our risk of losing her share of the house). What would be the best way to handle this?

    ReplyDelete
  167. Hi, Lynne,

    My husband bought a house and jointly owned with his father before we married.
    The house is still carrying a mortgage. I wanted to add my name as one of the joint owners. I wanted to know what legal implications I have? Do I need to have their legal consent?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course you need their written consent. You can't just add yourself to titles of other people's homes!

      Lynne

      Delete
    2. Hi, Lynne,

      Thank you. If the house was bought in ontario, do I need to pay any government fees if I add myself to titles of house jointly owned by my husband and his father.

      Delete
  168. Hi Lynne,

    I am still waiting for my questions answer:
    1.) It is a Lisence Lawyers, in BC, can legally put a Liens in someone's House / property; for unknown and or undisclosed bills? ...without a proper legal Judgement from the Court?
    2.) How long legally, a lawyer would kept the Estate Accounts, after Probate in BC.?
    3.) About a Divorce case, if can be continued after the other person died? and the called Estate, legally can hired a Lawyer to pursued a Divorce to get half of Jointly own Property / House.
    4.) If the Joint Tenancy Property, is legal to change into Tenant in Common after the other person died? because the called Estate wants to get half of the House value?
    5.) It is worth it, to pre-arrange a WILLS, ahead of time; when the time of death will only create a conflicts?
    6.) What is the purpose of having the WILLS 'if only would takes 7 to 10 years in disputes?
    7.) What is the purpose of having the Estate Law? and or who is exactly gets the benefits?
    8.) It is Lawyer, represent a client because know the client can afford to. But, not because of being right, or wrong? If that is the case...what is the point of having the Law?
    I would appreciate the honests answer to my questions as I am dealing with this issues for almosts 10/years.
    Thank you;
    N.M. BC

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really? You want all of that answered in a blog post, up to and including "what is the point of having the law"? I appreciate your frustration, but it is beyond the scope of this or any other blog to reassure you that there is a point to a country having a law. You need to sit down with a lawyer who is local to you. You should figure out what it is you really need to know. I mean, don't bother paying a lawyer's hourly rate if you only want a philosophical discussion about the rule of law; pare it down to the stuff you really need advice on. I wish I could help you but as I said, your post needs a book to answer it, not a blog post.

      Lynne

      Delete
    2. Thanks 'so much Lynne;

      I appreciated your response. The blog post is read by public, who has similar situation in legal issues with myself. I respect the Law of course, we all need it. But, is not all legal government representative are honest to thier job; in my experience and understanding over 7+ years, few others uses their License in the wrong representations. (In facts no one would wants to work in this type of practice for nothing; everyone is trying to make a living to feed a families. But me too! I have a family and kid who is going to school that is also need support; and I don't make $350/hrs. Therefore, I couldn't afford to support a Law Firms for 7+/yrs. There is probably good rep. Somewhere; but, I haven't meet.

      Thanks,
      N.M. BC

      Delete
  169. Hi, Lynne,

    Husband and wife lived in a matrimonial home. Title of the house is husband and his father. If both of them passed away, what will happen to the title of the house?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. By "both of them" I assume you mean the husband and father, not the husband and wife.

      When the first one - husband or father - died, the title would be owned by whichever of them survived. When that second person died, the title would fall into his estate and be governed by his will.

      Lynne

      Delete
  170. I guess all they can do is treatening someone, instead of going to the food bank.

    ReplyDelete
  171. Hi, Lynn,

    Husband and wife lived in a matrimonial home in Ontario. Title of the house is husband and his father, which would be owned by whichever of them survived. His father lived with his mother in another residence.

    If husband and his father decided to sell the house, does his father require to pay capital gains tax because the house is not his principal residence? Please advise.

    ReplyDelete
  172. This blog post has been SO informative, Lynne. You should be commended for giving people such great advice on your valuable time.

    I have a question that might be simple to some, but I'm not sure of a couple of things.

    How does one check for sure to see who is on title? Is it mortgage related or checking with our Local Provincial land titles?

    My spouse was always the breadwinner, and title has been in both of our names in 30 years of marriage - same home. We are still very happily married and mean to stay that way!

    When a financial hit came several years ago and we were in danger of losing our long time home, my spouse with his new career position, a good mortgage broker and new and improved credit rating gave us another chance.

    The new mortgage is in his name only and sails along smoothly. I don't contribute regularly as my income is sporadically commission based and I look after the family home as we have always agreed on.

    Does this mean the 'title' is now in my husband's name only? We want to assure that our family home passes along smoothly to the last surviving spouse and then our children with a Joint Tenancy agreement?

    1) How do we know if we have a Joint tenancy? (Land Titles?)

    2) Would I be on title with a mortgage exclusively in my husband's name, but sharing a family home for years?

    We also have a seasonal lake cottage and your replies have encouraged us to currently NOT put our 2 adult, married children on title with 'Tenants in Common', but sticking with our own marital Joint tenancy for now, leaving the cottage to them in our Will when we both eventually croak.

    The kids and their spouses both love going there now, and are now very considerate with each other. We just didn't want them to be burdened with Capital Gains when we die or run into the possible mess of 'Shares' in a single, but loved seasonal property. That's the job of our Chartered Accountant to advise us there.

    I mentioned to our young, adult children that to us in a perfect world, life would be beautiful and everyone would be married for 50 years, but we are just trying to protect their interests. Stuff can happen and does.

    They are common sense and our voluntary talk with them about this was a good communicative chat before it's too late.

    I really appreciate your blog and all it contributes.








    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, thanks for your note and the positive feedback.

      Normally a mortgage is in the name of the owners of the property, but there are always exceptions. Yes, you can easily find out about the title from the provincial land titles office. A search costs only a few dollars, and if you're there in person it's really quick too.

      I understand why you want your marital home to pass to the surviving spouse. That makes perfect sense. But I'm not sure why you want it to go to your children. Presumably by the time you and your husband pass away, your kids will have their own homes. Whatever you do, please DO NOT put their names on your home as joint tenants. You could lose your home if one of your kids should get divorced or be sued. You can leave it to them in your wills if you really want to, but please understand that it is almost never a workable arrangement to have two or more adults with their own separate lives on the title to one property.

      This is an idea you'd really want to talk through with your lawyer before going ahead. And I also agree that seeing your accountant about the taxes is a great idea.

      Lynne

      Delete
  173. Dear Mrs Butler,
    I'm italian 70 years old. My brother canadian naturalized in Toronto (ontario)is dead 30 years ago after a cancer about which I was kept in the dark by his business partner who called me just to tell me that when he died there was nothing in his will for me, his brother, and as he was not married and had no children, he left all his possessions to him . my brother never told me about his will and related document.
    Last month, after almost 30 years I have dreamed of. And he told me to go get my things. I have suspect of a gambling. How I can do for clear all ?
    which way I make for request info to civil authority or perhapes consulate ?
    Thank for your indications.
    Best.
    Lamberto

    ReplyDelete
  174. Lynne-
    tenants in common.Brother given verbal agreement by all siblings to live on property (Family Home) rent free provided he pay tax bills. Now he's trying to make us sign over our shares to him because we have not paid back taxes and therefore have no right to own property. He said he didn't pay rent because we never went after him. Is there anything we can do? How far back do we have 5to compensate ? Any legal precedence in province of N.B.

    ReplyDelete
  175. Lynne- Tennants in common:
    Verbal agreement that 1 sibling may live in family home rent free as long as they paid property taxes.Now, wants others to sign shares to them for not paying any property taxes which means we don't own any property.Is there any precedence? They said since we didn't go after any rent- too bad so sad.How far back do we have to pay?

    ReplyDelete
  176. My wife and I realized a year or so ago that the deed to our house is only in my name (even though I had asked the bank to put it in our joint name when we bought it long ago). Yet the mortgage is in both our names. Now I am the principal 'bread-winner' and perhaps that is why the bank and notary chose to do it that way. If I ask for the deed to be redone so that we are joint tenants or tenants in common, would it be deemed 'disposal of property' on my part (i.e. subject to capital gains tax)?

    ReplyDelete
  177. Hi lynne,
    I have joint tenency of our home with my husband, he passed away last week, the mortgage is in both names (his name& myself) ,if i request to change the title to my name then the morgtage will be closed and i have to reapply for the new mortgage; considering only my income there is a strong possibility that i won't get approval for it.the mortgage maturity is in oct 2014,
    My question is should i go a head for title change and inform the bank? Or it is better to keep it quiet and pay the mortgage as before till the mortgage maturity time comes ,when i will need to reapply for the mortgage any way?
    If i don't change the title to my name now ,would i have any legal problem in future at the time of selling my property?
    We have only 1 daughter , 22 years old. Should i have a will to say after my death the property will be hers?
    Thanks for your advise.




    mortgage which now with only my income there is most liklely

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,
      I'm sorry to hear about your husband's passing.

      I can't really advise you about things like whether you should tell the bank about your husband passing. I know nothing about your finances, your mortgage or anything else that would factor into that decision. I'm an estate planning lawyer so I'll stick to the parts of your question that have to do with estate planning.

      You say that the title is "in both names". I can't tell from that description whether it's in joint names or you are tenants in common. However, for the purposes of this discussion I'm going to assume that you are joint tenants as that is by far the most common arrangement between spouses. If the title is in joint names, you make the change by going to the land titles office or registry with the death certificate and filling in some paperwork.

      Do you know whether the mortgage is life insured? If so, the mortgage will be paid out in full once you notify the bank of your husband's death. You might also consider using any other life insurance had (not through the bank) to pay off the balance.

      If the title is in both names, you will have to change it to yours to sell it. You can't sign your husband's signature on a sales contract.

      Yes, you should definitely have a will to pass on your estate to your daughter. To prevent her from being caught in a situation similar to yours where she has no idea where to turn for help, consider appointing either a trust company or an older, trusted friend to act as co-executor along with your daughter.

      Lynne

      Delete
  178. Hi Lynne - Which title is proper for us, joint tenants or tenants in common? This is extremely important that it will damage our marriage! My husband and I are second marriage for 12 years. He has a 20-year -old daughter from his previous marriage and I have a 16-year-old son from my previous marriage. I deposit my pay check into my checking account and he deposits his pay check into his checking account. We share the house expense. I contributed 65k and he contribute 35k for the down payment when we bought a house in Nov 2011. On the property document, I have 65% interest and he has 35% interest. This is tenants in common. Plus, the interest will be change by the contributions at later day. Now, my husband asks me to change our property title to the Joint Tenants from the Tenants in common. If I don't agree, he would divorce. He said this type of title is not fair for him. But I think the tenants in common is fair for our situation. It's not fair for me if change it to joint tenants while he doesn't contribute as much as mine. What is your opinion? Many thanks in advance!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A man who would threaten to divorce you if you don't hand over your assets? Personally, I'd be packing his suitcase for him and showing him the door...

      You don't need an estate planner. You need a family law lawyer.

      And good luck. You'll need it.

      Lynne

      Delete
    2. Lynne, thank you so so much for your quick reponse. I really appreciate it.

      Delete
  179. Hi lynne, could you please respond to the posting march 24-2013 @5:04 am. My husband passed away and wondering about changing the title of our home to my name.
    Thank you for your time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know it takes me a while to get to most comments, but hey, this post alone has 198 comments on it. Some days I spend two or three hours just answering questions on one thread! Thanks everyone for your patience.

      Lynne

      Delete
  180. Hi Lynne,

    I have question regarding "this is not always done in second marriages, depending on the situation." which you mentioned after you talked about "Between a husband and wife, a title is almost always held as joint tenants. ".

    My situation is that my Dad passed away and my stepmother claimed the house would be hers as the house had been changed to her name only when my Dad was alive. Will the facts that my Dad paid all the down payments and mortgages and this was his second marriage be considered to challenge the estates execution under the title of "joint tenants"? Thank you so much for your time and advise!

    Cady

    ReplyDelete
  181. Hi Cady,
    No, I wouldn't expect either of those facts to make any difference at all.

    Lynne

    ReplyDelete

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