Types of Property Ownership in Alberta
- Sole Owner
Only one person has possession of the property. If they pass away, their Will or the “Intestate Succession Act” would be used to determine who has right to the property.
- Joint Tenancy
This is commonly referred to in a situation where spouses own a property together. If one partner was to pass away, the other would automatically get their share of the property. The process of transferring ownership is much more simple in joint tenancy than in tenancy in common.
- Tenancy In Common
Unlike joint tenancy where each owner has an equal share, in this type of ownership each owner owns a share of the property – equal or unequal. This is common for situations where unmarried couples, investment partners, or friends decide to purchase a property together.
This type of ownership allows partners to split their shares by different percentages. Here are some examples:
- Equal Investments (50% ownership per investor)
- One main purchaser with a parent to co-sign (99% ownership, 1% for the co-signer)
- Unequal investments (67% to owner #1, 33% to owner #2)
In this type of ownership, it is possible for a share to be held by more than one entity. This is called Joint Tenants. Married couples can “jointly” own 50% as tenants in common while a business partner owns the other 50%. In this case, if one person included in the Joint Tenant agreement were to pass away, the other would get the entire 50% share.
In order to transfer ownership, it is required for the joint tenants to sell the property together in agreement. On the other hand, tenants in common are allowed to sell their share of the property without permission from the other tenant.
This process would require a Transfer of Land document to be signed by the shareholder in order to authorize the land to be transferred under a new owner’s name. The new owner must sign a part of the form to acknowledge the market value of the land at the time of the sale. The document is then registered at the Land Titles Office.
Who Does Your Estate Go To If You Die Without a Will?
In Alberta, if a person dies and they do not have a will to determine who will get rights to their possessions, their estate automatically falls into what is called intestacy. The Wills and Succession Act is used to determine how a deceased person’s estate will be distributed in care of an intestacy. While the rules are made in hopes to acknowledge the wishes of most people, it can be quite a complicated process and sometimes result in unfair situations.
As of January 1st, 2020, the new Family Property Act of Alberta grants people in common law relationships the same protection as married couples. This reflects our changing society and definition of relationships. The province of Alberta now refers to “common-law” relationships as “Adult Interdependent Partners” (AIPs).
If a person dies and has no children, but does have a spouse/AIP, their estate goes to their spouse/AIP. When a person dies and has children with their spouse/AIP, their estate goes to their spouse/AIP. When a person dies, has children, and a spouse/AIP, but the children are not with the spouse/AIP, then the surviving spouse/AIP can receive a preferential share in an amount of 50% of the estate and the other 50% goes to the children.
If a person dies and has children, but no surviving spouse/AIP, each child will receive equal distributions of the estate. When the children are already deceased but have children of their own, the predeceased child’s portion will go to their children equally.
If a person dies and has no children and no surviving spouse/AIP, the estate is distributed to the intestates parents.
When a person dies, has no children, no surviving spouse/AIP, and no surviving parents, the estate is distributed equally to any siblings of the intestate.
If a person dies, has no children, no surviving spouse/AIP, no surviving parents, and no surviving siblings, then the estate will be distributed equally among maternal and paternal grandparents or their descendants.
For further details on wills, estates, transfer of ownership, it is best to refer to a professional legal counsel.