How title to a house can be held

My boyfriend and I plan to purchase a new home. How should we have the home titled?

There are a number of ways that two or more individuals may hold title to real estate in
Maryland. First, if they are married when they acquire title to real property, they may hold title as“tenants by the entireties”.  The primary benefit of holding title as tenants by the entireties is for “asset protection”, in that future creditors of either husband or wife may not attach the equity in the property to satisfy a debt owed by either of them.  However, creditors of both husband and wife, such as a mortgage company or the IRS, may attach property titled as tenants by the entireties.  If you and your boyfriend later decide to get married, you should consult with an attorney to retitle your property.  

If you intend to purchase the property without being married, then the two types of joint ownership that are available to you and your boyfriend are “tenants in common” and “joint tenants, with rights of survivorship”.  As the name implies, with a joint tenancy, upon the death of either one of the owners, the other owner or owners will acquire title to the property by operation of law. Whereas if two or more persons hold title to real property as “tenants in common”, then upon the death of any one of the owners, their interest in the property will pass to those individuals whom they have designated in their Will or Revocable Trust,  or if no one has been designated, to their heirs as determined under Maryland’s intestacy laws.

As evident, you and your boyfriend need to discuss your goals when considering how you want your home to be titled.  Given the passage of laws acknowledging domestic partnerships in Maryland, it is important that the appropriate affidavit and supporting documents be prepared, to enable you and your boyfriend to qualify for an exemption from Maryland Inheritance taxes (not estate taxes), and from recordation and transfer taxes.  An attorney will be able to assist you preparing the those documents.
Published in Outlook by the Bay, Fall 2011 issue (October 15, 2011)