If there is one thing becoming increasingly problematic in family relationships today, it is the dividing of family assets after people have died.
Complications have become far more common as a result of people buying a property before they have married, or a couple having separated from former spouses subsequently buying a property together, or one partner moving into the home of another.
It pays to consult a solicitor to plan the details of a Will because outcomes can become extremely messy.
There are two key ways of jointly owning a property: ‘Joint Tenancy’ and ‘Tenancy in Common’. Both systems provide individuals with a share of
the property but there are significant differences.
The most common method of ownership is with a ‘joint tenancy’ which means the ownership is held equally together and neither party can take precedence of the other – even if one contributes more to the purchase than the other.
No matter what, the share of the property is equal which means if one partner dies, the surviving partner automatically receives ownership.
Additionally, the remaining partner incurs responsibility for the mortgage remaining or any loans that maybe secured by it.
It means that one partner cannot leave his or her share of the property to specified beneficiaries.
‘Tenants in Common’
A ‘Tenants in Common’ arrangement is quite different as it specifies that the partners own a specific share of the property.
The percentages of ownership are described in the Certificate of Title.
In the event of a separation, the partners maintain their share of the property and in the event that one partner dies, his or her share may not automatically default to the other unless it is specified in that person’s Will.
With respect to a mortgage under ‘Tenants in Common’ it is generally a shared responsibility and if one person was to default, the other has to make up the repayments. This could mean making adjustments to the title with respect to shareholding.