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Financial Adviser | More on ‘inter vivos’ property transfer

Published:Sunday | March 20, 2016 | 12:00 AM

My mother and aunt are joint tenant property owners of land in Old Harbour, St Catherine. My aunt wishes to transfer her share of the property to me via inter vivos gift, thereby making my mother and me joint tenants. What are the steps to be taken in order to effect the transfer? What documents would be needed in order to effect the transfer? What are the fees, considering that the transfer is a gift? Bryan

When I responded to your question last week, I focused on the survivorship aspect of the transfer of property held in joint tenancy. Today, I will focus on transfer during the life of the joint tenants.

In order for your aunt to pass her interest in the property to you by way of a gift, she and your mother would need to sign the Transfer of Land to Effect Change of Tenancy form as transferors, and you and your mother would need to sign as transferees. This instrument of transfer can be found on the website of the National Land Agency www.nla.gov.jm.

You should then have a statutory declaration drafted, preferably by an attorney-at-law. It will mention the value declared of the property. The document should then go to the Stamp Duty and Transfer Tax Office, the Stamp Office for assessment and for paying the relevant duties.

Expect the Stamp Office to do its own assessment of the value of the property. From this, it should be clear that the Stamp Office will not blindly accept the value declared by you.

Once it has been stamped, the instrument of transfer as well as the registered title should be taken to the Titles Office section of the National Land Agency, where the ownership changes will be registered.

As the transaction would be a gift, the stamp duty would be $40 and the transfer tax would be calculated at the rate of 5 per cent of the value declared. But as only 50 per cent of it would be effectively transferred, only 50 per cent of the transfer tax would be payable. The Titles Office also charges its own fees, which can be sourced from the website of the National Land Agency

There are other situations in which the inter vivos transfer of property can take place. For example, both your mother and aunt could add your name to the title, thereby creating three joint tenants. In this case, your mother and aunt would be the transferors, and they and you would be the transferees. The relevant duties would then be computed on one-third of the value declared of the property.

Joint tenants can dispose of their property in several ways and circumstances. The point of greatest importance is that all joint tenants must agree to what is being done, meaning that they have to sign the documents relating to the changes in the ownership of the property.

Oran A. Hall, the principal author of 'The Handbook of Personal Financial Planning', offers personal financial planning advice and counsel. finviser.jm@gmail.com