What Is a Property Transfer?

by Philippe Lanctot ; Updated July 27, 2017
Inheriting the family cottage could prove costly without proper tax planning.

A property transfer occurs when money or the ownership title on a piece of property, such as a house or parcel of land, changes hands. The majority of property transfers occur on someone's death, where the will stipulates who will inherit the deceased's property.


When property is transferred through a will it must go through probate, which triggers inheritance taxes. Several methods exist to help you save taxes from the transfer of property through probate and they all involve the proper planning during a person's lifetime of property transfer at death.

Ways to Avoid Probate

Life insurance is the simplest method of transferring money to heirs in a tax-advantaged manner. On death, the beneficiaries receive the life insurance proceeds tax free outside of probate. For the transfer of property, you could consider a joint-ownership agreement, where the ownership of a property is held by two or more people. When one person dies, the ownership remains in the hands of the survivors.

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Living Trust

A living trust is set up during your lifetime with assets you can enjoy during your lifetime. At your death, the remaining trust assets pass on to your heirs. There would be no need for probate to get involved as the trust already has instructions on how to dispose of the property at your death.

About the Author

Philippe Lanctot started writing for business trade publications in 1990. He has contributed copy for the "Canadian Insurance Journal" and has been the co-author of text for life insurance company marketing guides. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the University of Montreal with a minor in English.

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