When you purchase a property in more than one name, you need to think about whether you wish to take the property as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common.
This means that each purchaser must decide what they wish to have happen with their share of the property in the event that they were to pass away.
What Does Joint Tenants mean?
“Joint Tenants” means that the person that you purchase the property with has what is known as a right of survivorship. Meaning the deceased persons share in the property would pass straight to the surviving person, not via their will.
Joint Tenants must own the property in equal shares i.e. 50% each. There can be more than two people holding the property in this manner.
What Does Tenants In Common mean?
“Tenants in Common” means that the person that you buy the property with does not have right of survivorship. In this case a deceased persons share in the property would pass according to the terms of their will. If a person dies without a will their estate is distributed according to the Wills, Probate and Administration Act 1898.
Tenants in Common may own the property in whichever percentage of shares that they may chose i.e. 50/50; 60/40 or even 99/1. There can be more than two people holding the property in this manner
For example, if Mr & Mrs Smith are going to purchase a property in 50% shares each, then they need to think about what they want to happen to their share of the property if either of them were to die.
If they choose to buy as Joint Tenants, and Mr Smith was to die, then his 50% share of the property would pass automatically to his wife.
If they chose to buy as Tenants in Common, and Mr Smith died, then his 50% share of the property would be distributed via his will. So if Mr Smith had a child from a previous marriage and he wanted to leave the estate to them, he could do so this way.
If Mr & Mrs Smith chose to take the property as Joint Tenants, and then they break up in the future, the decision is not irreversible, even if they choose to keep the house. They can decide to split their tenancy by writing a letter to the Land Titles Office to say they now wish to hold the property as Tenants in Common. This may happen for example if Mrs Smith is going to remain living in the property with custody of their children, and it is an amicable break up of marriage so Mr Smith is happy to remain as part owner so as not to complicate the financial situation for their family.
You can of course purchase the property with more than two people and choose from a mixture of the above tenancy options to suit your purposes.
It is definitely wise for you and your property partner to really consider what you want to have happen to your share in the property if one of you were to pass away, as this decision is recorded on your Title Deed when you purchase a new property.