If your name and the name of another person, such as your partner or a family member is on the Title Deeds of a property in England or Wales, then you will hold it as Joint Tenants or as Tenants in Common. If you own a property as Joint Tenants then upon death the property will automatically pass to your survivor; regardless of what is written in your Will.
If you own a property as Joint Tenants and have declared how you wish to own your beneficial interest, then in the absence of fraud or mistake, you will own the property in accordance with the declaration.
If, however, there is no express declaration of your beneficial interest the starting point is to assume that you will be jointly entitled to the equity. The Supreme Court has however decided that where it is not possible by direct evidence or inference to ascertain your intentions, they can decide your shares by looking at what they consider to be fair. Financial contributions are relevant but there are many other factors which the Court may take into account.
Tenants in Common
If you own the property as Tenants in Common then upon death the property will pass in accordance with the terms of your Will. If however, you do not have a Will then the property will pass in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy; which can be very harsh. Unlike married couples, people who live together will not automatically inherit from one another, and will not inherit from one another under the Rules of Intestacy. Therefore the only way you can provide assurance for one another upon death is to make a Will.
Living Together - Cohabitation Agreements
It's important that either at the time of purchasing a property or subsequently, you have an express declaration of trust in a Living Together or Cohabitation Agreement to ensure that your intentions regarding your ownership are accurately reflected. You should review your agreement from time to time as your circumstances change, to ensure that your legal documentation remains up to date.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers is home to the largest team of Family Lawyers in the country with offices across England & Wales. Wherever you live we can help. We offer flexible pricing and fixed fee services for Joint Ownership of Property, Cohabitation Agreements, Wills and all family law services.
For an initial consultation call our Family Law Solicitors on freephone 0161 830 9643 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help you.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers is one of the UK's largest and well known law firms with offices in London, Manchester,Watford, Liverpool, Chester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Preston, Wakefield and Wrexham.