How should I take ownership of the property I am buying?

This important question is one that real property purchasers ask their real estate, escrow and title insurance professionals every day. Unfortunately, these professionals may identify the many methods of owning property, but they may not recommend a specific form of ownership, as doing so would constitute practicing law and that’s against the law.

This is against the law, because real property is among the most valuable of assets and the specific question of how parties take ownership of their property is one of great importance. 

The form of ownership taken, otherwise known as the vesting of title, is used to determine who may sign various documents involving the property and future rights of the parties to the transaction. These rights are directly involved with matters concerning real property taxes, income taxes, inheritance and gift taxes, transferability of title and exposure to creditor’s claims. Also, the way that the title is vested can have significant probate implications in the event of an owner’s death.

Buyers may wish to consult legal counsel to determine the most advantageous form of ownership for their particular situation, especially in cases of multiple owners on a single property’s title.

One of the many things that a title insurance search does is declare the people that are vested in the title. This ensures that there is not a fraudulent transaction going on and that all parties who have an interest in the property do not lose that interest against their will.


The Common methods of ownership on a title are as follows:

Sole Ownership – a single person or single entity that may be capable of acquiring title; i.e. common cases of vesting of sole ownership are as follows:

A)   A single man or woman, unmarried man or woman, widow or widower – someone, man or woman, who is not legally married or in a domestic partnership (varying per state)

B)   A married man or woman as her or his sole and separate property –

This is a spouse who wishes to acquire title in his or her name alone. The title insurance company insuring the title will require the other married party’s name when acquiring this title to specifically disclaim or relinquish his or her right, title and interest in this property. This establishes that both parties want title to the property to be granted to only one of the two parties as the spouses sole and separate property.

C)   A domestic partner as his or her sole and separate party

Same is applicable for the above explanation, except in this case it is a domestic partner instead of spouse.