Have you ever looked at the property transfer records in your local newspaper? If so, you have probably come across a transfer of from a husband and wife to themselves. Many people wonder why a couple would go through the process of transferring property to themselves, mistakenly thinking they are somehow “buying property from themselves.”
What they are usually doing is making a new deed that will operate differently at death. Ohio law allows for a couple of different types of joint ownership. Traditional “joint tenancy” has each spouse owning half of the property. When one spouse passes away the other has to take the deceased spouse’s half of the property through probate to transfer it to the surviving spouse. That transfer tends to be more time consuming and more expensive than anyone would like.
Ohio allows an alternative to this design. By changing to a “joint tenancy with rights of survivorship” deed, the couple is creating a much easier process upon the death of the first spouse. When that spouse passes away the probate court is not needed. Instead, the surviving spouse simply files a one-page affidavit and a death certificate with the county administrative offices. The surviving spouse then owns the property.
A survivorship deed is a very simple way to protect a surviving spouse and ensure that their home does not become the cause of unnecessary costs and delays. While survivorship deeds have become the norm in recent years we still see a lot of couples with the old style of deed. If you would like to have your deed reviewed, contact our office for a free estate planning consultation.