Buying a piece of property in Florida, whether it be a condominium, home or raw land, can be a strategic investment. While investors often make individual purchases, there are also instances in which buyers purchase property with other partners or co-own property with a spouse. Co-ownership is an increasingly popular option as the real estate market rebounds. For those considering co-ownership, there are a variety of options available with Florida investments. Here is a glance at some of the most popular options available:
Tenancy in Common — This option allows the owner the greatest flexibility to transfer the property as desired. Each owner is considered a “co-tenant” with holding interest in the property and free to transfer his/her interest during life or through a will. If an owner conveys interest to another party, this third party then becomes a tenant in common with the remaining owners. The percentage of ownership can be different in this tenancy.
Joint Tenants — The percentage of ownership in this form must be equal interests in the property. If one of the joint tenants dies, their interest immediately ceases to exist and the remaining joint tenants own the entire property, split equally. The advantage to joint tenancy is it avoids having an owner’s interest probated upon their death. Most married people own property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. Upon the death of one spouse, ownership is vested by operation of law in the surviving spouse.
Note: Be aware that Tenancy in Common and Joint Tenants with right of survivorship offers no asset protection, and a creditor of either spouse may seize the interest the debtor spouse holds in joint tenant property and force the property’s sale.
Tenancy by the Entirety — Tenants by the entireties is a special form of joint tenancy ownership that is available only to married persons. In Florida, tenants by the entireties protection has been established by judicial decisions interpreting common law. One tenant cannot convey their interest without consent, unlike the other forms of tenancy. Upon death, the interest is automatically passed on to the surviving spouse. Unmarried couples who buy property and subsequently marry each other should re-title the deed as tenants by the entirety for greater credit protection. This form of ownership affords excellent asset protection benefits.
Be prepared early on and explain goals to the closing attorney for greater peace of mind.
Diane Green is a Newman-Dailey real estate agent who specializes in real estate investments in Destin, South Walton and 30A. She is listed among the top 6 percent of real estate agents by the Emerald Coast Board of Realtors. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.