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People own real estate either for residential or business purposes. The way in which legal title to real property is held can be extremely important to the approach people take when conducting their personal and professional affairs. In deciding who should hold title to property and what legal form ownership should take, many questions should be asked and thoroughly considered, including:
Most commonly, people hold property in their individual names, for either residential or commercial concerns. This is obviously the least complex situation, since the individual owner does not need to worry about the roles, rights or liabilities of any co-owners.
Four types of joint real estate ownership exist:
Taxation issues can vary significantly among these entitles and are a major consideration.
The law, varying among the states, may provide for different legal entities that can hold title to real estate:
This article is an attempt to provide only the basic legal concepts of property ownership. Real estate law varies somewhat from state to state and there can be significant federal considerations as well. Therefore, it can be especially important to consult an experienced and knowledgeable real estate attorney for detailed guidance in real estate matters. Legal advice may be needed because real estate ownership can affect many issues, among them tax, business and personal liability, property control and decision making, estate planning, administrative and legal costs, and even the quality of personal and business relationships among co-owners and/or future heirs or beneficiaries.
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