There are different ways for individuals to take title/ownership upon purchasing of property. Aside from a sole individual taking ownership (as Registered Owner) there are different methods of ownership and potential liabilities as an owner and these should be discussed prior to closing.
The following are the common ways of taking title/ownership to your property which apply when two or more persons will be taking title/ownership to such property:
Where land is registered in the names of persons as "joint tenants", and one of them passes away, title to the land automatically devolves upon the surviving joint tenant(s) who are registered as owners to such property. In other words, should one of the owners become deceased, the remaining owner(s) on title obtains the deceased interest in the property by what is called a "right of survivorship". The surviving joint tenant(s) automatically become the owner(s) of the property. This is the type of ownership most commonly taken/used by spouses when purchasing property.
Tenants in Common
Where land is registered in the names of persons as "tenants in common", and one of them passes away, the interest to such property of the deceased owner automatically vests in his/her Estate. In a ownership taken as a "tenant in common" each particular owner has a specific percentage interest (i.e.: they provide the solicitor with instructions as to what percentage of ownership they will have to the property). When a tenant in common owner passes away it is then necessary to determine who has the authority to deal with the deceaseds property. If the deceased tenant in common owner has a will, then, under usual circumstances, the deceased has appointed an Executor and Trustee to manage the affairs of his/her Estate and direct under the will who is to receive such property.
Alternatively, if a person dies without having disposed of his/her property or making provision for it by way of a will, he/she is said to have died "intestate". In these instances, the court must appoint someone to administer the assets of the Estate and distribute the assets in accordance with the laws of Ontario's Intestate Succession. This will usually entail another individual (i.e.: usually a relative, friend, or solicitor) applying for administration letters from the court.
Purchase of a Property Involving a Married Couple where only One Spouse is Obtaining Title
Please be advised that if you are purchasing a property which is going to be registered in only one spouses name and the property will still be maintained as the principal residence or matrimonial home, and most specifically where a Charge/Mortgage is being registered against the property, we will require both spouses to attend to sign documents for closing as it is a requirement under the relevant Statutes, and pursuant to mortgage company/bank instructions to have spousal consent endorsed.
Joint Tenants - if one of the owners passes away, the surviving owners automatically take full ownerhsip of the property.
Tenants in Common - each owner has their specifically set out percentage interest and if one of the owners passes away, their particular percentage is dealt with by way of the provisions of their will (i.e.: whoever they have given the property to under the will, or whatever other provision they have made under the will) and in the case that there is no will then court ordered letters of administration appointing an individual to deal with and finalize the deceaseds ownership/percentage interest.
Remember in the case of spouses it is almost always the common situation that ownership is taken as joint tenants.