Things to Consider with Joint Ownership in Langley

Depending on the nature of your separation, your mediator may ask you to share ownership of certain items with another person to “better manage your affairs.” These could include your home, vehicle, checking or savings account, or other pieces of property. This person (or persons) may be an adult, child, several children, or even a close friend or acquaintance. For your personal convenience, it may be easier for you to transfer full or partial ownership of the property in questions to another person or persons. Yet, to avoid legal complications, you should understand the implications of transferring property before you settle on a decision.

To help you understand joint ownership in Langley, the team at Langley Mediation is available for a consultation. You may also continue reading the topics covered on this page to get a better understanding.

Joint Tenancy Ownership

Defining Joint Tenancy
Let’s say, for example, that you are the sole property owner of a house. Whether due to marriage or other life change, you are considering adding another person (or persons) as co-owner(s) of the property. If you decide to transfer the ownership of your property under what is known as “joint tenancy” then you and whomever you transfer the property to are essentially equals in terms of legal property ownership.

For example, if there are two owners (yourself and, say, an adult child), each person owns ½ of the property; if there are three owners, each owns ⅓ of the property; and so on.

Each joint tenant has an identical interest and holds an equal right to use the whole of the property (including the house). In other words, if you transfer part of your ownership in your house to another person in joint tenancy, whether a family member, friend, or someone else, that person (or persons) hold the same legal claims to that house as you do. This is an important point to understand, particularly if you are contemplating sharing the ownership of your house or other property in joint tenancy with a person from outside your family with whom you may have just recently formed an acquaintance.

What Happens Upon Death?
If you die before the other joint tenant(s), your interest (ownership) in the property will, in most cases, automatically transfer (called the “right of survivorship”) to the other joint tenant(s). In other words, your interest will not “pass” with your estate and, therefore, you will not be able to give the property to other children or other beneficiaries through your will.


Defining Tenancy-in-Common Property Ownership
On the other hand, if you transfer the ownership in your house as a “tenancy-in-common,” each owner holds a separate and distinct interest in the property, not necessarily in equal shares (for example, two owners might have shares of ⅓ and ⅔, or ¼ and ¾). If the portions of the interests owned are not specified on the land title certificate, it is assumed in law that the shares are equal as between the owners (for example, if two owners, both would have a ½ interest; if three owners, each would have a ⅓ interest).

What happens upon death?
Upon the death of one of the tenants-in-common, their interest “passes” with their estate. That is, you can give your share of the property to someone in your will, or if you die without a will, it will “pass” to the closest relative according to BC laws of intestacy (which means dying without a will) even if the person inheriting the share of property was not formerly one of the tenants-in-common. This differs significantly from a joint tenancy and should be considered when deciding on the type of shared ownership that you desire.

What is the Nature of Ownership if the Nature of Ownership is Not Stated?
If the ownership or title document says nothing about the nature of the ownership, as a general rule BC law assumes that:

  • For personal property (eg. cars, bank accounts, etc), the ownership is a joint tenancy; and
  • For real property (eg. house), the ownership is a tenancy-in-common.

Be Aware of the Legal Complexities 
There are a number of legal complexities that might arise in relation to shared property. These are examples only. It is beyond the scope of this article to explain all the legal complexities and individual circumstances that arise in this area of law.

Therefore, as a general rule, if you are being asked to share ownership of your property with another person:

  • Obtain independent legal advice, that is, see your own lawyer – not the same lawyer that is acting for the person who you are considering transferring ownership to – about the rights and responsibilities that follow from making the transfer of ownership that you are contemplating;
  • Make sure you clearly understand the nature of the ownership being suggested and the purpose for the suggested change in ownership;
  • Consider whether there are other ways to accomplish the same purpose, and if the purpose is merely to give someone the ability to be able to make legal decisions about that property when you are no longer able to do so then consider entering into an Enduring Power of Attorney, because you can revoke a Powers of Attorney as long as you are still mentally capable of doing so; and
  • If you are transferring to an adult child, make sure your intentions are properly recorded at the time of transfer.

Langley Mediation Services
826 Brock St N
Whitby, ON L1N 4J5

Langley Mediation Services

Monday – Friday: 9:00 AM—5:00 PM
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed

After-hours appointments available upon request

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