How to Take Title – Advantage and Limitations

The following are various forms of tenancy commonly used in the Commonwealth of Virginia:

  1. Tenants by Entirety with Common Law Right of Survivorship
    • Only husband and wife may hold title with this tenancy. Should one spouse predecease the other, title to the property automatically vests in the survivor.
    • A lien or judgment filed against only one spouse will not be a lien against the property held with this tenancy, with a few exceptions, e.g., federal tax liens.
  1. Joint Tenants with Common Law Right of Survivorship
    • Two or more people may hold title this way. As with Tenants by the Entirety, should any one owner predecease the other owner(s), title automatically vests in the survivors owner(s).
    • A lien or judgment against any one owner could be a lien against the debtor’s interest in the property.
    • Married couples may NOT hold title this way.
  1. Tenants in Common
    • Any two or more people (including husband and wife) may hold title this way. Each person has an undivided fractional interest in the property.
    • In the event of an owner’s death, his or her interest will NOT pass automatically to the surviving owners, but rather will vest in the heirs or devisees under his or her will, or pass by the laws of Intestacy in no will exists.
  1. Individual Ownership/Sole Owner
    • The property is conveyed to one owner who has the exclusive use and benefit of the property and the right to dispose of it.