Recently, we've been getting a lot of questions regarding non-married co-purchasers and the tax implications of the recent IRS rule change.  We thought we would start off by first looking into possibilities of how two purchasers might be listed on the deed. We spoke with Michael Moore, President of Moore Title Services, Inc. and Business Development for CB Title Group, LLC, who shared this insight with us:


When two people purchase real property and they are not married to each other, there are basically two options of ownership available to them. If they want the property to be left to the other upon the death of one, then they would have the deed set up to read: “John Doe and James Smith, as joint tenants with right of survivorship”. Effectively, this tenancy affords two people, who are not married to each other, some benefits that are similar to a tenancy by the entirety (the most typical form of ownership for married couples).

Non-married purchasers can also take title as tenants in common. In such a case, when there are two purchasers, they would hold title to a ½ interest each in the real property, unless otherwise stated.  Each one’s interest is considered separate from the other. Therefore, a judgment creditor of one can only enforce its judgment against the ownership interest of the one owner-debtor. Also, when one of the owners under this tenancy dies, that owner’s interest in the property passes to his/her estate and the other owner now becomes an owner with the estate of the deceased owner. When there is a tenancy in common created and no percentage ownership interest is stated, there is a presumption that each owner owns a 50% interest in the real estate. If the parties’ intention is otherwise, they must recite the specific allocation of interest among them.

There can also be multiple combinations of ownership when there are more than two purchasers. Here are some examples of the language used for these types of common ownership.  When two people wish to hold title as tenants in common: “Ann Jones and Edward Lowe, as tenants in common each having a ½ interest” or “Ann Jones, as to a 2/3 interest and Edward Lowe, as to a 1/3 interest, as tenants in common” or “Ann Jones and Edward Lowe, as tenants in common”. When there are more than two purchasers, the language may read as follows: “Ann Jones, Edward Lowe and Jane Pine, all as tenants in common” or “Ann Jones (as to a 60% interest), Edward Lowe (as to a 20% interest) and Jane Pine (as to a 20% interest), all as tenants in common”. There may be a combination of tenancies. For example, “Ann Jones and Robert Jones, as tenants by the entirety and Edward Lowe, as tenants in common”.  In this scenario, The Jones’s own a ½ interest (together) with Edward Lowe as to ½ interest, as tenants in common.  There may be other formats as well. 

If you have any questions about other forms of ownership or questions about the types discussed here, please feel free to contact Michael directly by email.