How To Take Title To Real Property

Careful thought must be given to how to take title to real property in South Carolina.  It is strongly recommended you  consult legal counsel to make sure you have all the information needed to make an informed decision.

SOLE OWNER means that you alone own the property.  Upon your death your property will go into your estate and the distribution of the property will be dictated by your legal Will.

Tenants by the Entirety was abolished in South Carolina in 1895 (though it is used in other states).  It has been replaced by  Tenancy in Common With Right of Survivorship

Tenants in Common  for two or more people, each owner having a divisible interest in the property (percents of interest do not have to be equal).  Each owner has the right to leave his or her share of the property to any beneficiary upon the owner’s death. If one of the tenants in common dies, his/her percentage interest in the property will go into his/her estate and be distributed in accordance with the terms of the his/her legal Will.

When we purchased our home in 1995, title was tenants in common.  It wasn’t until 2014 when I pulled out our deed that I saw this and nearly stroked out.  This wasn’t the first home we owned, and all previous homes were held as JTWROS so we “just assumed” this was how title would be held.  I called the closing attorney to question “why” and he advised that Tenants in Common was how the majority of real property was held in South Carolina until 2000 (I think that’s the correct year.)  Anyway, the next day we went to a real estate attorney to have the deed changed to read JTWROs and to have  our Wills made. Here is what could have happened if we didn’t make these changes:

Heaven forbid if my husband died and we didn’t have Wills in place, his 50% would pass through the laws of intestacy and I would end up sharing our home with his children from a previous marriage.  Worse than that, if my husband died and had significant outstanding credit issues, those creditors would be able to go after his 50% interest in an attempt to collect on his debt.

Join Tenants With Right of Survivorship (“JTWROS”) there is no divisible interest, joint tenants share equal interest of ownership.    Upon the death of an owner title of the property is passed to the surviving owner with no probate.