If your estate includes significant real estate investments, the manner in which you own these assets can have a dramatic effect on your estate plan. One versatile estate planning option to consider is tenancy-in-common (TIC) ownership.
What is tenancy-in-common?
A TIC interest is an undivided fractional interest in property. Rather than splitting the property into separate parcels, each owner has the right to use and enjoy the entire property.
An individual TIC owner can’t sell or lease the underlying property, or take other actions with respect to the property as a whole, without the other owners’ consent. But each owner has the right to sell, mortgage or transfer his or her TIC interest. This includes the right to transfer the interest, either directly or in trust, to his or her heirs or other beneficiaries.
Someone who buys or inherits a TIC interest takes over the original owner’s undivided fractional interest in the property, sharing ownership with the other tenants in common. Each TIC interest holder has a right of “partition.” That is, in the event of a dispute among the co-owners over management of the property, an owner can petition a court to divide the property into separate parcels or to force a sale and divide the proceeds among the co-owners.
How is it used in estate planning?
Here are two ways TIC interests can be used to accomplish your estate planning goals:
Distributing your wealth. If real estate constitutes a significant portion of your estate, dividing it among your heirs can be a challenge. If you transfer real estate to your children, for example — as joint tenants — their options for dealing with the property individually will be limited. What if one child wants to hold on to the real estate, but the other two want to cash out? Transferring TIC interests can avoid disputes by giving each heir the power to dispose of his or her interest without forcing a sale of the underlying property.
Reducing gift and estate taxes. Fractional interests generally are less marketable than whole interests. Plus, because an owner must share management with other co-owners, they provide less control. As a result, TIC interests may enjoy valuation discounts for gift and estate tax purposes.
Get an appraisal
If you’re considering using TIC interests as part of your estate plan, it’s critical to obtain an appraisal to support your valuation of these interests. Keep in mind that appraising a TIC interest is a two-step process: an appraisal of the real estate as a whole, followed by an appraisal of the fractional interest. In some cases, it may be desirable to use two appraisers: a real estate appraiser for the underlying property and a business valuation expert to quantify and support any valuation discounts you claim. Contact us with questions.