Wisconsin is a unique state when it comes to real property. When you think about Wisconsin and its proximity to Minnesota you would think that the real estate rules would be fairly similar. However, the rules in Wisconsin are very different from the rest of the states in the upper Midwest.
How Title Insurance in Wisconsin Differs
Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa have very similar laws that relate to real estate. The laws in Wisconsin are very different. For example, the rules differ for things such as the types of tenancies available. In Wisconsin if you’re a married couple you don’t have the option of taking title as joint tenants or tenants in common. The options for the type of tenancy are limited to Marital Property or Survivorship Marital Property.
Community Property vs. Separate Property
The distinction has to do with the fact that Wisconsin is a community property state whereas Minnesota and the other states in the upper Midwest are separate property states. “Community property state” means that whatever each party acquired during the marriage becomes part of the marital estate, so they each own equally in each other’s property. In this case it wouldn’t make sense to take title as tenants in common when property ownership is viewed as a joint marital whole. Minnesota and the Dakotas are separate property states where you have sole and separate property that can be brought into the marriage or acquired during the marriage, and maintained as sole and separate property. That’s not really an option in Wisconsin. That distinction drives who is required to sign on a mortgage and how married couples take title to property.
Differences in Laws & Statutes
The laws as a whole are also very different in Wisconsin. The laws in Minnesota and the Dakotas are fairly well drafted, in that they’re concise and on-point to the issues we often encounter in real property practice. Comparatively, the statutes in Wisconsin are not as precisely drafted and they don’t cover nearly as many potential circumstances that can arise in a real property transaction. As a result, more is left open to interpretation. That can cause difficulties because it may result in disparate treatment of similar facts and circumstances. So you might have two transactions in Wisconsin that appear to be virtually the same and they can be handled differently by different parties.