Buyer(s): When you receive your Escrow Instructions, one of the items you will receive is the Buyer’s Vesting Instructions where you will indicate how you intend to hold title to the property you are purchasing. Though it may be as simple as filling in a few blanks on the form, the way you take title may have significant tax and legal consequences. If you need advice on how you should take title, it is recommended to consult a real estate attorney and/or CPA.

Title to real property in California may be held by an individual in Sole Ownership or more than one individual in Co-Ownership. There are many ways to hold title. The following are some of the more common examples of how title may be held and are provided for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY


  • A Single Man/Woman:
    A man or woman who is not and has never been married.

    e.g. John Smith, a single man.

  • An Unmarried Man/Woman:
    A man or woman who, having been married, is legally divorced.

    e.g. Jane Smith, an unmarried woman.

  • A Widow/Widower:
    A woman or man whose spouse is deceased.

    e.g. John Smith, a widower.

  • A Married Man/Woman*:
  • A man or woman who is married but wishes to hold title as their sole and separate property from their spouse.

    e.g. Jane Smith, a married woman, as her sole and separate property.

    *When a married man or woman wishes to acquire title as his/her sole and separate property, the spouse must consent and relinquish all right, title and interest in the property by a quitclaim deed or other written agreement.


  • Joint Tenancy:
    Property owned by two or more individuals in equal shares or interest and subject to the rights of survivorship. Upon the death of one party, title is automatically vested to the surviving joint tenant or tenants by operation of law. A joint tenant cannot will his ownership to another individual.

    e.g. John Smith and Jane Smith, husband and wife, as joint tenants.

  • Community Property:
  • Property owned by husband and wife where each owns one half. Either spouse has the right to convey one half of the community property either through a sale or by a will. Property acquired by husband and wife together or separately during marriage, other than by gift, bequest, devise, descent or as the separate property of either is presumed community property.

    e.g. John Smith and Jane Smith, husband and wife.

    e.g. John Smith and Jane Smith, husband and wife, as community property.

  • Tenancy in Common:
    Property owned by more than one individual where the co-owners own undivided interests. Unlike joint tenancy, these interests need not be equal in quantity and may arise at different times. There is no right of survivorship; each tenant owns an interest, which on his or her death vests in his or her heirs or devisee.

    e.g. John Smith, a single man, as to an undivided ¾ interest, and George Smith, a single man as to an undivided ¼ interest, as tenants in common.

  • Trust/Partnership/Corporation:
    Title to real property in California may be held in trust, partnership or corporation. Please call your real estate attorney for legal advice on how you should take title to your property.