When meeting with clients to discuss their succession planning, many cannot recall whether their property is held jointly as joint tenants or jointly as tenants in common.
The distinction is that with properties held as joint tenants, both parties own the “whole” of the property. On the death of the first joint tenant, the property will pass automatically to the surviving joint tenant, regardless of the terms of the deceased joint tenant’s Will or the intestacy rules.
In contrast, with properties held as tenants in common, both parties own a distinct “share” in the property – this can be 50-50 or any other split, which would usually be recorded in a Declaration of Trust. On the death of the first tenant in common, his or her share in the property will pass in accordance with his or her Will or intestacy. This gives some scope for Inheritance Tax planning.
It is possible to check how a property is owned at the Land Registry, for a small fee. It is also possible to change how your property is held, if you wish.
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