Estate Planning, Personal Property

Asset Titling and Estate Planning: What You Need to Know

Understanding who technically owns the assets you intend to bequeath is one of the most important steps in estate planning. The title reflects the ownership of an asset, and may affect who receives them or pays taxes on them after you are gone.

Types of Asset Ownership and Titles

There are many types of ownership to consider when titling assets. Each ownership type has varying implications for taxation and estate planning purposes.

Sole Ownership

Sole ownership, or single ownership, is when one person’s name is on the property title. That person has complete ownership (and thereby complete control) of the property. The owner may choose to sell the asset or bequeath it to beneficiaries delineated in their will. If there are no designated beneficiaries on an asset titled with a sole owner, the asset may be subject to probate. Single name assets may pass directly without going through probate through transfer on death (TOD) or payable on death (POD) designations.

Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship

The property is co-owned in its entirety with all other owners, with the names of all co-owners (i.e. joint tenants) on the title. When a co-owner dies, their interest in the property doesn’t pass into their estate, but transfers to the remaining owner(s).

Tenancy by the Entirety

Tenancy by entirety (TBE) is like joint tenancy with right of survivorship, but TBE can only exist between married couples. For one spouse to change his or her interest in the property, the other spouse must consent to the change. When one spouse dies, the surviving spouse gets full ownership of the property. Tenancy by the entirety is only available in certain states, so make sure to check with an estate planning specialist if your state allows TBE.

Tenancy in Common

Tenancy in common allows two or more owners to have an interest in a property. Ownership is not necessarily split equally among the co-owners. Instead, co-owners may split the interest disproportionately. Unlike joint tenancy with right of survivorship, tenancy in common allows each co-owner to leave his or her share of the property to beneficiaries upon their death.

Review Your Asset Titles

Keep in mind that all your assets will go to someone in the end. Having your assets titled correctly ensures that your assets go to whom you intend after you die.

If you have questions about your assets and titling options, contact a Fifth Third estate planning specialist.

 

Fifth Third Bank does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax adviser or attorney before making any decisions or taking any action based on this information. This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute the rendering of tax or legal advice.

Fifth Third Bancorp provides access to investments and investment services through various subsidiaries, including Fifth Third Securities. Fifth Third Securities is the trade name used by Fifth Third Securities, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and a registered investment advisor registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Securities and investments offered through Fifth Third Securities, Inc. and insurance products:

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