This article is a section taken from MA for People Who Are Age 65 or Older or People Who Are Blind or Have a Disability (MA-ABD), a part of the revisions and additions to the Minnesota Health Care Program Eligibility Policy Manual.
Real property includes land and all buildings or immovable objects attached permanently to the land. Real property is an asset and is counted toward a person’s asset limit if available and not excluded. Availability depends upon the type of real property and the person’s ownership interest in it. See the following types of real property for more information.
This section explains the ways in which a person can own real property.
Sole Ownership in Real Property
Sole ownership of real property means that only one person may sell, transfer, or otherwise dispose of the property. Sole ownership may be limited by conditions imposed by other interests.
Shared Ownership in Real Property
Shared ownership of real property means that two or more people own the property at the same time. Shared ownership may be limited by conditions imposed by other interests. There are three types of shared ownership:
Tenancy-in-common is a form of property ownership in which:
- Owners may not have the same interests in the property. This means that while two or more people each have an interest in the entire property, these interests are not necessarily equal; e.g., two joint tenants do not necessarily each own half of the property.
- Owners may sell, transfer or otherwise dispose of their share of the property without the permission of the other owner(s).
- Owners do not have survivorship rights. This means that when one tenant-in-common dies, the other tenant(s)-in-common does not automatically gain rights to the deceased owner’s interest in the property.
Joint tenancy is a form of property ownership in which:
- Owners have the same interest in the property. Each owner owns all of the property and may possess all of the property.
- Owners generally may not sell, transfer or otherwise dispose of their share of the property without the permission of all other owners.
- Owners have survivorship rights. If one joint owner dies, that owner’s interest in the property passes to the other joint owner(s).
The value of a person’s joint tenancy interest in real property is determined by dividing the equity value by the number of owners.
Tenancy by the entirety
Tenancy by the entirety is a form of property ownership in which:
- Owners are a married couple. Each spouse owns the entire property.
- A spouse cannot sell, transfer, or otherwise dispose of the property without the consent of the other spouse.
- Owners have survivorship rights. If one spouse dies, the other spouse becomes the sole owner of the property.
This type of real property ownership does not exist in Minnesota but may apply to property held in another state. This form of ownership protects the property owner from debts contracted outside the marriage. Creditors of the debtor spouse may not collect against the property unless the debtor spouse becomes the sole owner.
Ownership of Homestead Property in Minnesota
In Minnesota, a spouse cannot sell, transfer, or otherwise dispose of homestead property without the consent of the other spouse. This is true regardless of whether the spouses own the homestead as tenants-in-common, as joint tenants, or if the homestead is held solely in the name of only one spouse.
Limits on Ownership
Fee simple ownership means absolute and unqualified title to real property. The owners can sell, transfer, possess, use, or otherwise dispose of their interest in the property during their lifetime without limit or condition. Upon his or her death, property held in fee simple can pass to the owner’s heirs. Fee simple ownership may exist with respect to property owned jointly or solely.
Less than fee simple ownership means the real property owners may have limits on their rights to sell, transfer, possess, use or otherwise dispose of their property. Two types of less than fee simple ownership are:
- Life estate. An interest in real property with the right of use or enjoyment limited to the owner’s life or the life of some other person. A life estate is a form of legal ownership and usually created through a deed or will or by operation of law.
- Remainder interest. A life estate instrument often gives property to one person for life (life estate owner) and to one or more others (remaindermen) upon the death of the life estate owner. A remainderman has an ownership interest in the physical property but without the right to possess and use the property until termination of the life estate.
Verification of Real Property Ownership Interests
It is assumed, absent evidence to the contrary, that each owner of shared property owns only his or her fractional interest in the property. Documents that people may use to verify ownership interests include, but are not limited to:
- Assessment notices
- Current tax bills
- Current mortgage statements
- Report of title searches
- Wills, court records, or documents, which show rights of an heir to property after death of a former owner
Minnesota Rules, part 9505.0015
Minnesota Statutes, section 256B.056, subdivision 1a
CREDIT: The content of this post has been copied or adopted from the Minnesota Healthcare Programs Eligibility Policy Manual, originally published by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
This is also part of a series of posts on Minnesota Healthcare Eligibility Policies.