How is my property dealt with in my Will?

Your property is essentially dealt with just like any other asset that you own. However, there are some additional considerations if you own property together with someone else.

When you buy a property with someone else you can own it in one of two ways:

  1. As joint tenants.
  2. As tenants in common.

How you co-own your home will affect how it can be treated in your will.

Joint tenancy

Where property is owned by joint tenants each owns an equal share in the whole property and the property cannot be divided between them.
When one joint tenant dies, their share of the property will automatically pass to the surviving joint tenants who will then own the whole property – even if the deceased’s will says something different.

Tenants in common

Where property is owned by tenants in common, each owns a separate share of the property. The shares can be equal or unequal.
When one tenant in common dies their share in property can be gifted in their will, just like another assets.

Why is it important?

If you co-own property as a joint tenant you may not want the other joint tenant to receive your share of the property when you die. In that case you will need to “sever” the joint tenancy. You can find guidance on this here.

How do I find out ?

If you own property with someone else, but don’t know whether it’s as joint tenants or as tenants in common, you may be able to find out from the Land Registry by undertaking a “title search”, which costs £3.00.

Usually – but not always – the Land Registry will be told at the time of purchase whether the co-owners hold the property as joint tenants or tenants in common.
Where it is clear to the Land Registry that the co-owners hold the property as joint tenants, you will not see any reference to joint ownership on the “proprietorship register”. Otherwise the Land Registry will assume that the co-owners are tenants in common and will include the following in the record:

‘No disposition by a sole proprietor of the registered estate (except a trust corporation) under which capital money arises is to be registered unless authorised by an order of the court.’

So if you see this wording on the proprietorship register, it’s a very good indication that you hold the property as tenants in common.

When you bought your property jointly with another person, the conveyancer should have discussed with you the different types of ownership with you. If you are in doubt about how you own the property, they should be able to help you.

Whatever your situation or living arrangements, we can help guide you through the steps involved in making the right will for you and your family.

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