Title

DEFINITION of 'Title'

A title is a legal document that espouses an individual's right to ownership and possession of all items that can be recognized as being owned or belonging to a person or a thing. At a basic level, a title is a document that indicates recognition of ownership.

In a government system that acknowledges individual property rights, an individual is capable of having ownership over an expansive amount of tangible and intangible property. Titles can be obtained by purchase, descent or grant.

BREAKING DOWN 'Title'

Three components apply to the concept of a title: apparent ownership, occupation or possession, and the right of possession. While there are various types of titles, there are two which are most commonly obtained: personal property titles and real property titles.

Personal Property Titles

Titles to personal property allow individuals the rights to own things that doesn’t fall under the real property category. It also includes all rights or interests in movable things.

Personal property is generally divided into two dominant categories. The first category involves corporeal personal property, meaning all property that is tangible or material. This includes items such as merchandise, jewelry and animals. The second category involves incorporeal personal property, meaning items that are not necessarily material or tangible. This includes items such as copyrights, patents, bonds and stocks.

Real Property Titles

Different from personal property, real property – like cars and real estate – is provided a title that conveys ownership. Whenever an asset is sold, the title is transferred to the buyer. All personal property that is sold or traded must be freed of liens and other debts before the property can be transferred to another party.

Real estate ownership, or titles, may take one of several different forms. Primary forms of ownership include:

• Tenancy in common, which involves two or more individuals who jointly hold a real estate title. Tenants in common hold a title, individually, for their respective piece of the property. Each individual can transfer or encumber his title. Ownership can also be willed to another party.

• Tenants by entirety, in which a title is given to a legally married husband and wife, treating the couple as one individual. If one spouse dies, the title is transferred to the living spouse in entirety.

• Joint tenancy, which involves two or more individuals holding a real estate title jointly, where each individual has equal rights to the property during his lifetime.

• Community property, a form of ownership by a married couple with the intention of owning property together during the marriage. Both spouses have the right to sell or transfer half of the property or will it to another individual. Aside from real estate, all property acquired during the marriage is deemed community property.

• Sole ownership, which is characterized by a legal individual or entity that holds a title. Typically, sole owners are single men and women, married men or women holding property apart from their spouses, and businesses with structuring that allows for investing in real estate.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Quiet Title

    A lawsuit filed to establish ownership of real estate when ownership ...
  2. Title Search

    An examination of public records to determine and confirm a property's ...
  3. Chain Of Title

    The official record of ownership of a property or asset. The ...
  4. Clear Title

    Also known as "clean title," "just title," "good title" and "free ...
  5. Perfect Title

    A title deed for real estate that does not have any liens attached ...
  6. Bad Title

    A title that does not grant ownership to its holder due to unsatisfied ...
Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    Holding Titles On Real Property

    Find out how best to claim and convey ownership on your assets.
  2. Personal Finance

    Encumbrances And Nonpossessory Interests In Real Property

    Learn about nonpossessory interests and the various forms of encumbrances.
  3. Investing

    How Property Rights Affect Economies

    Property rights are laws governments create that enable investors to control, benefit from, and transfer property.
  4. Personal Finance

    What You Should Know About Real Estate Valuation

    Anyone involved in a real transaction can benefit from gaining a basic understanding of the different methods of real estate valuation.
  5. Personal Finance

    The Guide to Investing in REO Properties

    Real estate owned properties present a unique investment opportunity but there are some specific challenges to be aware of before diving in.
  6. Managing Wealth

    Costs New Investors in Real Estate Do Not Consider

    As lucrative as real estate investment can be, there are a multitude of costs that new real estate investors must consider.
  7. Personal Finance

    Flipping Houses: Is It Better Than Buy and Hold?

    Real estate investors can flip a property or use it for cash flow. Find out which will work in your neck of the woods.
  8. Personal Finance

    Investing In Property Out Of State

    If you can't afford property close to home, consider taking the real estate plunge elsewhere in the country.
  9. Personal Finance

    Sell Your Rental Property For A Profit

    Being a landlord can be taxing, especially when you want to sell. Find out how to reduce your burden.
  10. Managing Wealth

    How Does a Tax-Free Exchange Work?

    In regards to the sale of property, particularly in real estate, a 1031 exchange is increasingly being recognized for its tax benefits to investors of all levels.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What is the difference between real estate and real property?

    Understand how real estate is legally different from real property and the implications of that difference for each property ... Read Answer >>
  2. What will be the tax on the sale of transferred property?

    My sister bought a house valued at $250,000. A year later, she transfers the title of the property to me. I want to live ... Read Answer >>
  3. How does securitization play a role in the implementation of PACE financing?

  4. What do real estate attorneys do?

    Understand the role of a real estate attorney to help you decide if you would benefit from the expertise of this type of ... Read Answer >>
  5. What criteria does a property need to meet to be considered an 'investment grade' ...

    Learn what it takes for institutional investors to consider a property "investment grade," such as real estate investment ... Read Answer >>
  6. What real estate documents need to be recorded?

    Learn how recording documents on real estate transactions, such as deeds, mortgages, easements and taxes, help ensure proper ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. AAA

    The highest possible rating assigned to the bonds of an issuer by credit rating agencies. An issuer that is rated AAA has ...
  2. GBP

    The abbreviation for the British pound sterling, the official currency of the United Kingdom, the British Overseas Territories ...
  3. Diversification

    A risk management technique that mixes a wide variety of investments within a portfolio. The rationale behind this technique ...
  4. European Union - EU

    A group of European countries that participates in the world economy as one economic unit and operates under one official ...
  5. Sell-Off

    The rapid selling of securities, such as stocks, bonds and commodities. The increase in supply leads to a decline in the ...
  6. Brazil, Russia, India And China - BRIC

    An acronym for the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. It has been speculated that by 2050 these four ...
Trading Center