Whether you are funding a trust, selling land, leasing a mineral interest, or planning for your home after you die, you are using a deed. A deed is the legal document that transfers an interest in land. Arkansas has many different types of deeds.
If you own your home with your spouse, you own it as “tenants by the entireties.” On the death of one spouse, the other owns the whole home. Nothing needs to be done to change the title on the home.
If you own anything with another person who is not your spouse, you can own it either as “joint tenants with rights of survivorship” (JTWROS) or as “tenants in common” (TIC). If you own the property as JTWROS, after the death of one owner, the survivor owns the whole property.
If you own property as tenants in common, each owner owns an undivided interest. The interests do not have to be equal; one person could own 1/3 and the other could own 2/3. Upon the death of own owner, that interest does NOT automatically pass to the survivor but passes as the deceased owner included in his or her Will.
You can also create special interests within a deed. You can give someone the right to profits (rent, mineral royalty interests) for life or the right to live in a house for life. This interest is named a “life estate” and lasts for the life of the person to whom it is given.
The newest deed in Arkansas is the beneficiary deed. The beneficiary deed must be recorded before the owner’s death, but only becomes effective after the owner’s death. Once it becomes effective, the beneficiary deed transfers the real property interest to a new owner. There is no need to probate a Will or use an attorney. The transfer happens automatically.
Check your deeds. Knowing how you own your land can make a big difference. Call us if you need any help.
Karen Reagler is an estate planning attorney helping people improve the quality of their lives by answering the "what if's." A graduate of Duke University, Washington University School of Law, and Western New England University School of Law, Ms. Reagler is available to help you in Western Arkansas, Hot Springs, Hot Springs Village, Garland County, Saline County, and the rest of Arkansas.