If you own a property jointly with someone else, you may automatically become the sole owner when they die, depending upon the way in which the property is held.
If you live in a home which you own jointly with someone else, it is important to understand the type of ownership you have. This is because it will determine what happens to the property after the death of one owner.
The two types of property ownership
If a property is owned as tenants in common, then each owner has a specified share of the property. For example, a couple may choose to have 50 per cent each, or if one has contributed more to the purchase price they can agree on different shares.
When a tenant in common dies, their share of the property passes in accordance with the terms of their Will or, if they did not have a Will, then under the Rules of Intestacy to specified close family members. This means that the person living in the property will not necessarily inherit it and they may have to leave so that it can be sold.
The second type of property ownership is a joint tenancy. No share is specified and the property is deemed to belong to the owners jointly. When one of them dies, the remaining owner automatically owns the whole of the property.
This is the case, even if the deceased left a Will leaving all of their assets to someone else, because a joint tenancy interest in a property passes by the Right of Survivorship and not via a Will.
The Land Registry will need to see a certified copy of the Death Certificate to amend the Register after the death of a joint tenant, however they will not ask for a Grant of Probate, although this may still be needed for other assets that the deceased may have held. If the property is solely owned or owned by tenants in common, the Land Registry will require a Grant of Probate before they amend the Land Register.
How is my property owned?
To find out how a jointly owned property is held, you need to check the Land Registry title. The property is owned as tenants in common if the section marked ‘B: Proprietorship Register’ contains this or similar wording: ‘No disposition by a sole proprietor of the registered estate (except a trust corporation) under which capital money arises is to be registered unless authorised by an order of the court.’ If there is no restriction then ownership is as joint tenants.
In some cases it is advantageous to your estate for your property to be owned by way of a tenancy in common. It is still possible for someone to stay in the property after the death of the other owner by leaving them a life interest in it. Planning for the future can be a complex area and it is advisable to seek legal advice to ensure that your loved ones are provided for as you would wish.
If you would like to speak to a Wills and estate planning expert, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at email@example.com.
If you own a property jointly with someone else and you want to leave it in your Will, you need to understand the different types of joint ownership.
When you buy a home with someone else, you will either own it as joint tenants or as tenants in common. This affects who the property will pass to in the event of your death.
If you own a property with someone else as joint tenants, then on the death of either of you, the property automatically passes to the other, whatever the terms of your Will.
Tenants in common
If you own property as a tenant in common with another person, then your share in the property will pass in accordance with the terms of your Will.
This type of ownership also allows you to own a property in unequal shares. If you hold a property as a tenant in common, you should ensure you have a valid Will in place so that your interest passes to your choice of beneficiary.
If you don’t have a Will
If you haven’t made a Will, then your share of any property owned as a tenant in common will pass in accordance with the rules of intestacy. This leaves your estate to your closest family members, in strict shares.
If you are married, then your spouse will receive the first £250,000 you leave, together with all of your personal possessions. Of the remainder, half goes to your spouse, with the other half being split equally between any children.
Leaving a life interest in your home
If you own a property jointly, you might want to leave your share to your children, but allow your spouse or partner to live in the property during the rest of their lifetime.
This can be done by severing the joint tenancy, if there is one, and setting up a life interest trust in your Will. It means that the joint owner won’t have to leave the property, but once they no longer need to live there it will pass to the beneficiaries named in your Will.
This prevents any children being disinherited in the case of second marriage, and can also protect your share of any property from care home fees that the co-owner may incur in later life.
Whatever method of property ownership you have, it is always advisable to put a Will in place so that you can be sure your loved ones benefit from your assets after your death. It can also prevent disagreements arising between family members.
If you would like to talk to one of our expert lawyers, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.