There are two ways to own property:-
If you own a property as joint tenants then you will own it together jointly. On the death of the first owner, the property will automatically pass to the survivor. It is important to note that under this type of ownership it is not therefore possible to leave your interest (share) in a property under your Will.
As an alternative to a joint tenancy it is possible to own a property as “Tenants in Common”. This is where the shares of each owner are made distinct. It is vital if you hold the property in this way that you make a Will if you have not done so already, or updating your Will if you have made one, to specifically name the person you wish to leave your share in the property to. The consequence of not doing so means that your share in the property may not pass to the person you desire.
In contrast to Joint Tenants, where you hold the property as Tenants in Common, you can agree the percentages owned by each party. If you chose to hold the property in unequal shares, to perhaps reflect one party’s higher financial contribution, it is strongly advisable to have these terms agreed and formalised within a Declaration of Trust to protect your interests for the future.
As well as protecting your interest in the property there are other benefits to holding the property as Tenants in Common. For example, you may be concerned about care home fees or tax implications and how to best plan for the future.
If you already own a property as joint tenants then it is possible to change the nature of ownership to tenants in common by “severing” the joint tenancy. Again, Robinson Allfree can advise on the processes for and reasons to sever a tenancy.
The Robinson Allfree Conveyancing Team would be delighted to discuss the benefits of the different types of ownership together with Declarations of Trusts with you to help you to decide the preferred option for you.