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Basic Property Transfer

For small items such as everyday groceries or even larger purchases in shops, you usually don't have to sign any kind of separate agreement like a Bill of Sale. The informal contract is finalized when money exchanges hands and you obtain the item, with its receipt acting as confirmation. However, as the value increases, paperwork becomes necessary. Real estate is by far the most complicated subject matter for property transfers. The most basic way of transferring ownership is through a Bill of Sale, a legal document that represents the contract between the buyer and the seller stipulating an exchange of property (real estate) for currency. What sets real estate sales apart is that the Bill of Sale will usually have to be notarized or witnessed, depending on your state regulations. Learn more about how to transfer real estate.

Transfer Property as a Gift

Another way to transfer property is as a gift. Defined as a transfer of ownership where the donor does not receive the full consideration in return, it is governed as a distinct type of transfer from sale. Usually accomplished between family members, gifts of real estate also have to be notarized or witnessed in order to be completed. Note that gifts are considered taxable under Chapter 12, Subtitle B of the Internal Revenue Code. The tax is usually paid by the donor, though in some cases that responsibility may transfer to the recipient.

Transfer through Relinquishment

Though not explicitly defined, relinquishment of rights to a given piece of real estate can also be considered a valid form of property transfer. As usual, a document in which you or another party relinquishes their rights to a given piece of real estate has to be notarized or witnessed in order to be effective. Note that different jurisdictions can and do regulate the matter differently. Always ask a lawyer to see if relinquishment is possible, and if so, what the requirements are.

Transfer through a Will

A Will constitutes a form of transfer of property that takes place at the moment of the owner's death. The full assignment of rights may depend on the beneficiary accepting the Will's terms, and the way in which they accept the property. Please note that enforcing the Will prematurely is illegal. Tampering with it is, too. Learn more about Wills and estate planning.

Things to Remember for All Types of Transfers

It is important to note that all types of property transfers are subject to taxation. Make sure you comply with the tax regulations to avoid unpleasant surprises. Researching your state laws, and ensuring the transfer complies with them, will also ensure that the ownership is transferred properly, rather than remaining unchanged due to errors in paperwork.

Have questions about transferring property? Ask a lawyer.


This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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