Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I am requesting information about the process of having names added to my mother's title. My mother would like to add both my siblings and myself to the title for her house. We are not minors and one is currently abroad. Thanks in advance for your assistance and response.
There are a number of questions which arise with such a plan. Does your mother have a mortgage on the property? Is she still paying instalments or has the mortgage been fully paid and discharged and her title is free from any encumbrance, save for the usual restrictive covenants pertaining to the use and positioning of buildings on the land?
If your mother's title is free and clear, the decision has to be made whether she wants you all to have a joint interest in the property or interests as tenants-in-common. A joint interest means that you all would own the entire property together without any proportioning of interests. In other words, your mother, your two siblings, and you would hold the entire property together, and on the death of one of you, the whole interest would pass by law to the survivors, and so on, until one is left. Or, at the inception or some time later, all of you on the title could decide to sever the joint tenancy and hold the interest as tenants-in-common. This means that each of you would hold a particular percentage of the whole and as you would be four persons, that would mean if no specific percentage is stated in the transfer document, that each would legally hold a 25 per cent interest of the property.
Her transfer to you, her children, will be done for love and affection and not for value. The latter means that you, her children, are not being added to her title for value, that is to say, you all are not buying the interests she is passing to you, her children.
I would suggest that your mother obtains the services of a lawyer to draw up the documents for her to effect the transfer. In situations such as your mother's, I always tend towards joint tenancies, whereby you all would hold the entire interest in the home together and no singular person can seek to dispose of their interest in the premises. If you or your sibling who is here in Jamaica, reside with your mother in the premises, the transfer to herself and you both will not be liable to transfer tax, so only the one-fourth interest to your sibling residing abroad would be subject to transfer tax. The transfer would, of course, be subject to stamp duty and the registration fee, which are calculated on the value of the property and the interest being transferred. Her duplicate certificate of title must accompany the documents to the titles office at the submission for the registration of the transfer and its endorsement on the title.
A declaration of value and of identity will have to be done by your mother to support the Instrument of Transfer, which will have to be signed by her and you and your siblings. Your sibling abroad can be sent the deed of transfer to sign before a notary public, whose appointment would have to be authenticated if he/she is in an foreign country as required, and you all here can sign before a justice of the peace.
The Registrar of Titles office is moving towards implementing online processes and though the documents needed to effect such a transfer, as desired by your mother, are not difficult to prepare, they are somewhat technical and this is why I suggest the assistance of a lawyer to prepare and see the process of registration through to be prudent to ensure its smooth completion.
I hope I have given you the information your mother and you need to move her wishes, which are eminently sensible, forward.
I wish you and your family all the very best and success in the endeavour.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.