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Joint Tenants vs Tenants in Common

Imagine your property is like this red apple:

Joint-Tenants vs Tenants in Common Imagine your property is like this red apple

If you own your property as joint tenants, then you both hold this red apple together as a whole. If one of you dies, then the apple passes in its entirety to the survivor automatically, so the survivor ends up owning the whole apple on their own. This is the default position for the co-ownership of land.

BUT… you can “sever” the joint tenancy over your property to become tenants in common. This is like cutting the apple in half.

Joint Tenants vs Tenants in Common You can sever the joint tenancy over your property to become tenants in common

Once the apple has been cut in half, you will then own a distinct one-half share of the apple each. This means that, on your death, your respective halves of the apple pass under your Will to the beneficiaries you name in your Will. It also means that, whilst you can give your half of the apple to the survivor of you (in which event, he or she would end up holding the whole apple, except it will be in two halves), you may prefer to give your half of the apple to someone else – for example, your children.

Joint Tenants vs Tenants in Common Once the apple has been cut in half, you will then own a distinct one-half share of the apple each.

The other benefit of owning as tenants in common is that you do not have to cut the apple into equal one-half shares. You could have unequal portions – perhaps to take into account unequal contributions to the purchase price. If that is the case, then we would also recommend that you put in place a Declaration of Trust to record the proportions in which you will own the property.

Further Reading:

What actually happens when I buy a house?

Evictions ban extended until at least 31st May

Probate and Properties – What to do

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Hilary Buckle offers a fixed fee initial meeting of one hour to discuss your personal circumstances, your options and your next steps, at a cost of £95 (inc VAT).

Hilary specialises in all aspects of private client work, including Wills, trusts and probate matters. She is a member of the Thames Valley branch of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) and an associate member of ACTAPS (the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists).

If you would like to know more or arrange a fixed fee appointment, please email her at [email protected] or call her on 0118 958 9711.

"barrettandco" and "Barrett & Co" are trading names of Barrett & Co Solicitors LLP, a Limited Liability Partnership incorporated in England and Wales under registration number OC356263, with registered office at Advantage House, 87 Castle Street, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 7SN. Barrett & Co Solicitors LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority www.sra.org.uk (SRA Number 549694).

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