Background

A brief guide to the Co-ownership of Property

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When two or more people purchase property, one key consideration is how they choose to own that property.

There are two ways in which a property can be held jointly. Choosing the most suitable option based on your personal circumstances is crucial as it will determine how the property can be dealt with on the death, divorce or separation of the parties.

Beneficial Joint Tenants

This type of co-ownership is when each co-owner holds the whole of the property jointly and they do not have a distinct share in the property. This is irrespective of how much they have contributed financially towards it.

On the death of one of the co-owners, their interest in the property will automatically pass to the remaining co-owner(s). Their interest cannot pass to their beneficiaries as they never owned a distinct share in the property.

On the death of the last surviving co-owner, the property will then pass to the beneficiaries named in their Will. In the absence of a Will it will pass to their next of kin in accordance with the Intestacy Rules.

This type of co-ownership is most common with married couples.

Tenants In Common

This type of co-ownership is where each co-owner holds the property in distinct shares. This can be equal or unequal. When choosing this type of co-ownership it is worthwhile for the parties to consider recording their share in the property. By doing so this avoids any uncertainty in the future and can be documented by making a Declaration of Trust.

If the property is held as Tenants in Common, on the death of a co-owner their share does not automatically pass to the surviving co-owner(s). In such a situation their share will pass to whoever is named in their Will or in accordance with the Intestacy Rules, should that individual die intestate (without a Will).

This type of co-ownership is most common with unmarried couples and business partners.

It is important to ensure the correct type of co-ownership is selected from the outset, however if your personal circumstances do change it is possible to change your type of ownership. In addition, if you are a sole owner of property it is possible to include another individual as a joint owner.

If you require help and advice and would like to discuss further how Hunt & Coombs can help you, please email the Residential Conveyancing team: [email protected].


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