FAQs Archive - Ritter Elder Law & Estate Planning

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What is a Life Estate Deed Without Powers?

    In Maryland, a life estate deed is a type of legal agreement that allows a person (known as the life tenant) to own and use a property during their lifetime, while also designating one or more other individuals (known as remaindermen) to receive ownership of the property upon the life tenant’s death.

    Under a life estate deed, the life tenant retains the right to use and occupy the property for the rest of their life, but they cannot sell or transfer ownership of the property without the consent of the remaindermen. Once the life tenant passes away, the remaindermen automatically become the owners of the property, without the need for probate.

    Life estate deeds can be used for various purposes, such as to transfer ownership of property to family members while also allowing the original owner to retain use of the property during their lifetime. They can also be used to avoid the costs and delays of probate, as ownership of the property passes directly to the remaindermen upon the life tenant’s death. These types of deeds may also be used in Medicaid planning and asset protection planning.

    To create a life estate deed in Maryland, the property owner must execute and record a deed that designates themselves as the life tenant and one or more individuals or entities as the remaindermen. It’s important to note that once a life estate deed is created, it can be difficult to change or undo, so it’s important to consult with a qualified attorney before proceeding with this type of legal agreement.

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  • What is a Tenancy in Common?

    A tenancy in common is a type of ownership arrangement in which two or more people own a specific piece of property, such as a house or a piece of land. Each owner has a separate, undivided interest in the property, and each owner’s interest can be freely transferred or inherited.

    In a tenancy in common, each owner has a right to occupy the property and use it in proportion to their ownership interest. For example, if two people own a property as tenants in common, one might own 50% of the property and the other might own 50%. Each owner would have the right to use 50% of the property and would be responsible for paying 50% of the expenses associated with the property, such as property taxes and maintenance costs.

    Unlike joint tenancy, where each owner has an equal interest in the property, in a tenancy in common, the owners can have different ownership interests. Additionally, when one owner dies, their interest in the property passes to their heirs or beneficiaries, rather than automatically passing to the surviving owners.

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  • What is a Joint Tenancy?

    In Maryland, a joint tenancy is a type of property ownership arrangement where two or more people own the property together, and each owner has an equal share in the property. Joint tenancy can be used for various types of property, including real estate, bank accounts, and investments.

    In joint tenancy, each owner has an equal right to use and enjoy the property, and all owners must agree to any decisions about the property, such as selling or refinancing it. If one owner dies, their share of the property automatically passes to the surviving owner or owners without the need for probate. This is known as the right of survivorship.

    To create a joint tenancy in Maryland, the owners must include specific language in the deed or title that indicates their intention to create a joint tenancy with right of survivorship. The deed or title must also be recorded with the local land records office.

    It’s important to note that in Maryland, joint tenancy may not be the best option for everyone. There are potential risks associated with joint tenancy, such as the risk of creditors going after the property and the possibility of unintended consequences if one owner dies. It’s always a good idea to consult with a qualified attorney to determine the best way to own property in your specific situation.

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  • What is a Tenancy by the Entirety?

    In Maryland, a tenancy by the entirety is a type of joint ownership arrangement between spouses that provides additional legal protection to their shared property. It is only available to married couples and is similar to joint tenancy, but with some important differences.

    Under a tenancy by the entirety, the property is owned equally by both spouses, and neither spouse can sell, transfer, or encumber their interest in the property without the other spouse’s consent. This means that if one spouse incurs a debt or a legal judgment against them, the creditor cannot force the sale of the property to satisfy the debt or judgment. Additionally, if one spouse dies, their share of the property passes automatically to the surviving spouse without the need for probate.

    Tenancy by the entirety is recognized in Maryland as a form of joint ownership of real property and is only available to married couples. It can be created by including specific language in the deed that indicates the property is being conveyed to the couple as tenants by the entirety.

    It’s important to note that while tenancy by the entirety offers legal protection to the shared property, it may not be the best option for everyone. It’s always a good idea to consult with a qualified attorney to determine the best way to own property in your specific situation.

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  • Do I need to have a Contract to Sell Real Estate in Maryland?

    Yes, in Maryland, a contract is typically required to sell property. A contract is a legally binding agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the sale, including the purchase price, the closing date, and any contingencies or conditions that must be met before the sale can be finalized.

    The contract is usually prepared by a real estate agent or an attorney and must be signed by both the buyer and the seller. Once the contract is signed, it becomes a legally binding agreement, and both parties are required to comply with its terms.

    In addition to the contract, there are several other documents and steps that are typically required to sell property in Maryland. These may include a property disclosure statement, a title search and title insurance, a deed, and various other legal documents.

    It’s important to work with a qualified real estate professional or attorney who is familiar with Maryland’s real estate laws and regulations to ensure that all necessary documents and steps are completed correctly and on time. This can help ensure a smooth and successful sale of the property.





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