Transfer Property to a Common Law Spouse

Share real property with a common law spouse when you cohabitate, for investment purposes, or in your Will. Preplanning now saves you time and money when you have a common law spouse you want to be on title to a family home or land.  

Signing contracts with your partner

How to Add Spouses to House Title in Ontario

You bought your home before you met your common law spouse. Now you want to add them to the title. Good choice.

Your property passes to your common law spouse, or other owners like next of kin or investors, when they’re registered as a joint tenant. That allows the last surviving owner to bequeath the property to children, or anyone they wish, when they die. 

It gives a common law spouse entitlements that certain cohabitation agreements — where your common law spouse simply lives in the home but doesn’t own a share — can’t provide.

Why to Get a Joint Tenant Agreement 

Joint tenant spouses have equal shares in real property. When your common law spouse dies, you become the sole owner. Your property transfers without going through time consuming probate court proceedings. Your estate pays administrative or legal costs, but your common law spouse avoids capital gains taxes until they sell or die themselves. 

Axess Law adds title insurance to protect you and your common law spouse from mortgage fraud when you buy a new property together.

How transfer of title works.

Transferring your house property

Who Gets the House When a Spouse Dies

Are you inadvertently leaving real property rights out of your Will because you think your spouse automatically gets family homes you shared? Not so.

  • Only legally married spouses have a right of survivorship to matrimonial homes. 
  • A family home a common law spouse inhabits belongs to whoever is on the property title.

What a common law spouse is entitled to in Ontario is limited by whether you are joint tenants in property you own. Your common law partner may not even be considered a spouse unless you are unmarried and living together in a conjugal relationship. 

Common Law Spouse Entitlements in Ontario

How long you have to be together to be “common law married” depends on if you have children. 

You are considered common law spouses in Ontario if: 

  • you share a home, finances, friends who see you as a couple, and an emotional and sexual relationship, and
  • you have been together continuously for at least three years, or
  • you have a relationship of some permanence, and have a child — see Children’s Law Reform Act, section 4.).

So before you leave your common law spouse out in the cold, arrange a joint tenant arrangement by putting both your names on title to family properties. Love you though they may, if your Will doesn’t make adequate provisions for a long-term common law spouse, or permanent partner you shared a child with, your estate may be sued for unjust enrichment.  

Who gets your home when you pass on.

Provinces That Recognize Common Law Marriages

British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories do give common law couples who separate the same property rights as legally married spouses. Talk to a family lawyer about where to file a legal separation application if you have recently moved to Ontario.

Who Gets the Family Home in a Separation

Married couples who split equalize their net property 50/50. Without a joint tenant arrangement, common law couples in Ontario have no such rights.

What a Common Law Spouse is Entitled To

Common law spouse entitlements are limited to property your partner brought into your relationship. Without going to court, rent, mortgage, or property tax contributions may not be recognized unless they are included in a cohabitation agreement or you agree to share assets. 

Ask Axess Law for joint title or a cohabitation agreement to protect your families’ financial future.

Sharing Titles to Family Homes

Organizing the title prevents confusion about who owns the family home. 

  • Cohabitation agreements for family homes give common law spouses the right to occupy but not co-own a home.
  • Joint tenant means all co-signers are on title to the property. Your name is struck from the title upon your death.

Like business partnerships, creating a joint family venture can protect assets if you part ways.

Property you gift or voluntarily transfer to your common law spouse or they inherit (and avoid co-mingling in a joint bank account) is theirs. 

See can you get the family home on leaving a spouse.

House property and court

Why You Need a Lawyer 

Transfer titles quickly and conveniently when you use Axess Law. Adding a spouse to property title in Ontario takes minutes of your time. Axess Law prepares the title transfer forms when we meet, then does a thorough title review for:  

  • construction or financial liens that can block a transfer
  • rights of way or encumbrances like hydro lines
  • outstanding property taxes or utility payments.

Your title documents are deposited with a local land titles office, and a copy emailed or couriered to you. 

Axess Law can liaise with your bank, credit union, trust company, or private lender if you borrow a mortgage. We register mortgage charges against title to your property to satisfy the terms in your mortgage documents, and answer any questions you may have.

Arrange spousal consent when you list or sell. 

Flat Fee Affordable Legal Services

Adding spouses to house titles (Ontario only) costs just $649 and up plus HST at Axess Law, or $799.99 and up plus HST if you make a private sale of property to next of kin. Axess Law’s flat fee legal services are all-inclusive, with no hidden fees or extras to blindside you. Bring two pieces of photo I.D. and your mortgage documents or title to your property to your appointment. 

Make individual or mirror Wills for common law spouses for $199.99 and up each plus HST, or $149.99 and up each plus HST when you both make Wills at the same appointment. 

Book Appointments Online or By Phone

Online or in person, Axess Law makes title transfers easy with convenient day or evening appointments, 7 days a week. Call or go online today to make appointments. Our online booking form is quick and convenient, or call our 647-479-0118 lawyer line (toll free to 1-877-402-4207) to make appointments that suit your schedule.

Can’t make it into our offices? Axess Law’s virtual lawyers video conference with you anywhere in Ontario. You can talk to a lawyer from the comfort of your home or office any day of the week. E-sign with confidence when you use Axess Law’s secure, confidential remote access software, or sign in person by dropping by any office when it’s convenient for you.

Ottawa and Greater Toronto Area Axess Law locations near you have onsite parking and transit access.