If you are thinking of a joint tenancy with a partner or spouse, you need to understand the risks involved.
There are two main types of co-ownership: a joint-tenancy and a tenancy in common. Both tenancies serve different purposes. It is important therefore, that you enter an arrangement that is right for you and your partner or spouse.
In a joint-tenancy both parties are owners of the whole property. They do not own a particular share in the property. In order for a joint-tenancy to exist, both owners have an equal right to own the whole property. They are also equally jointly liable for the property. In addition, they need to obtain their legal ownership from the same document at the same time.
Joint-tenants benefit from survivorship – what happens to the property shares if one of the couple dies. Where one co-owner dies, estate ownership is automatically transferred to the survivor – the living co-owner. This also means that no inheritance tax will need to be paid.
In a tenancy in common, each owner holds a particular share in the property. The amount each owns often reflects the initial contributions towards the purchase price. In order for this type of co-ownership to subsist, each must have the right to make use of the whole property.
Tenants in common are treated as individuals. The concept of survivorship does not apply in the event of death. Instead their share will be transferred to those named in their will or through the intestacy rules, leaving the other tenant legally unaffected.
If you are thinking of a joint-tenancy, please give us a call for informal advice. One of our property solicitors will help you decide which option best suits you and your partner or spouse. SG
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