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Can I Transfer Ownership of a Property During My Lifetime?

You can transfer part (or all) of your property to another person during your lifetime with a voluntary transfer. This differs to selling because no money is exchanged. There could be tax implications, so you must get professional advice first.

What is a voluntary transfer?

A voluntary transfer is when you transfer ownership of your property (or part of your property) to another person during your lifetime, without any money exchanging hands. This is achieved with a legal document called a Voluntary Deed of Transfer. As the person gifting the property, you are called the ‘transferor’. The person receiving the gift is called the ‘transferee’.

Who might consider a voluntary transfer?

Voluntary transfers are useful in any situation where you want to add someone to the ownership of the property, or you want to put the property in someone else’s name entirely (but you don’t want to sell). This type of transfer typically takes places amongst family members, particularly:

  • Farmers who want to transfer the family farm to a son, daughter or other relative
  • Farmers/landowners who want to transfer a parcel of land to a son, daughter or other relative so they might build a residential dwelling
  • People who purchased a property in their sole name but now want to make a spouse or partner a joint owner
  • Elderly people who want to gift their property to their children during their lifetime

How do I do a voluntary transfer?

If you want to transfer ownership of your property, you and the transferee both need to get independent legal advice. You cannot use the same solicitor.
The transferor’s solicitor will draw up the Deed of Voluntary Transfer. This contains a clause that you are transferring the property of your own free will and have not been pressured into doing so. If you are transferring part of the property – such as a parcel of land – then the paperwork will include an OSI map. This must demarcate the exact portion of the property that is being gifted.

The transferee’s solicitor will advise them about the implications of receiving the gift. The tax implications are especially important to consider, as the transfer may give rise to Stamp Duty, Capital Gains Tax and Capital Acquisitions Tax. The new owner will also be liable for Local Property Tax. However, there may be tax reliefs available. For example, the Young Trained Farmer Relief provides Stamp Duty relief where a farm is transferred to a qualified farmer under the age of 35. There are also tax exemptions for transfers between spouses, civil partners and former spouses/civil partners (subject to certain conditions).

The transferee’s solicitor will also carry out searches against the property. This ensures the transferee knows exactly what they are taking on. The searches may reveal issues that were previously unknown or undisclosed, and this may have a bearing on how they wish to proceed. For instance, a creditor could have a charge registered against the property for the debt owing.
Once the paperwork has been drawn up and signed by both parties, it is lodged with the relevant authorities. The ownership of the property is then officially transferred.

Can the transfer be set aside?

However, the transfer can be set aside by the court if there is any indication of wrongdoing. Most commonly, transfers are set aside if the transferor’s motivation was to defraud creditors or the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). This can also happen if the transferor was attempting to dispose of the asset to protect it from bankruptcy proceedings.

Do you want to transfer a property into someone else’s name?

If you would like to transfer your property into someone else’s name, or you are hoping to be gifted a property, please contact us at Mullins & Treacy Solicitors. We can provide sound and pragmatic advice about how to transfer property in the most cost and tax effective manner.

If you would like to update your Will, or you would like to make a new Will, please contact us at Mullins & Treacy Solicitors. We are client focused and results driven.

Call us on 051 391 488 or email reception@mullinstreacy.ie for a no obligation enquiry.

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