Buying a house in joint names

Question: I am married with a number of years. The family home is in the sole name of my husband. It has been suggested, that my husband and I, should put the property into the joint names of the both of us. Is there a special rate of Stamp Duty payable to the Revenue Commissioners for the transfer of property into our joint names?

Answer: There is no Stamp Duty payable on a transfer of property as between spouses. Married couples, under our Constitution are given special protection. For this reason, the Law encourages the transfer of property, be it a family home or otherwise into the joint names of husband and wife. This is different to other situations such as the voluntary transfer of property between parent and child. In that instance, a liability to the payment of Stamp Duty applies, albeit, it does not apply as between husband and wife.

One of the main advantages in the transfer of property into joint names of husband and wife is the smooth devolution of the ownership of property into the sole name of the survivor on the death of one of the joint owners without the necessity of having to make an application to the High Court to extract a Grant of a Probate/Administration.

Example

Joe and Mary Bloggs are married and their main asset comprises a farm of ninety acres and a family home. The asset is in Joe’s sole name. Joe makes a Will bequeathing the asset to Mary. Joe dies. To put the asset into her sole name, Mary must go through the process of extracting a Grant of Probate to his Estate. This is timely and could be expensive. If however, the asset was, during Joe’s lifetime transferred voluntarily by a Deed of Transfer into the joint names of the both of them, on Joe’s death the asset automatically passes to Mary under the Law of survivorship, without Mary having to extract a Grant to the estate in order that she gets the property into her name. In other words, it is an easy and simple process.

Mechanics involved in a Voluntary Transfer

Once instruction is received by a Solicitor, a Deed of Transfer of Ownership into joint names is drafted based on the title and signed by both parties. It is then presented to the Revenue Commissioners to have it adjudged exempt from the payment of Stamp Duty. Thereafter, it is lodged in the relevant Registration of Ownership Authority for registration.

In the Land Registry (now known as the Property Registration Authority), there is ordinarily a prescribed fee for voluntary transfers of €85.00. The exception, when no fees are payable, is when one spouse transfers property into the joint names of both spouses. If the property comprises of more than just the family home as in the above example of ninety acres, the normal fee of €85.00 applies. There will be the additional fee payable to your solicitor for the processing of the transaction which would be a matter for discussion as between you and your Solicitor. Given that the process involved in a voluntary transfer is not as complicated ordinarily as that as is involved in extracting a Grant, the fee would be considerably less.

Myra Dinneen,

Published: West Cork People March 2010