Where you are buying your property jointly, you will each be a co-owner.
As co-owners, you can hold the property in one of two ways:
• As joint tenants
• As tenants in common
If you hold the property as joint tenants, both of you will own the whole of the property. You will not each have a quantified share in the property and will not be able to leave a share of the property in your Will.
On the death of one co-owner, their interest in the property would automatically pass to the remaining co-owner without any further action. The surviving co-owner would then own all of the property and on their death it would form part of their estate. This is known as the "right of survivorship".
This method of co-ownership is commonly used by married couples or those in a civil partnership because the right of survivorship makes it straightforward for the co-owners to inherit each other's shares in the property. However, there may be reasons for co-owners not to become joint tenants. For example, if they have made unequal contributions to the purchase price of the property or have a family from an earlier marriage and wish to leave their interest in the property to them, instead of passing it to the other co-owner.
Tenants in common
If you hold the property as tenants in common, each of you will own a specified share in the property. Your share of the property can be passed on to another person, either during your lifetime or under your Will. If you do not have a Will at the time of your death then your share will pass in accordance with the rules of intestacy.
If you wish to hold the property as tenants in common, then a Deed of Trust should be drawn up stating each co-owner's individual share. Your shares may be equal, but they do not have to be. Holding the property as tenants in common in unequal shares may be desirable if you have made unequal contributions to the purchase price of the property. Holding the property as tenants in common may be appropriate if you have children from previous relationships and would prefer them to inherit your interest on your death ultimately rather than your co-owner.
How you wish to hold the property must be your own decision and is something that you should keep under review following the purchase of your property.
If you decide to hold the property as joint tenants but then wish to split your interests, the joint tenancy can be "severed" and turned into a tenancy in common at any time.
If you have any queries regarding joint ownership, please phone the team on 0113 306 000.