Option 2: Do you want the property to be jointly owned so that each of you owns a precise and specified share of the property and are each able to leave this share, by Will, to whoever you choose. If so, then do you wish:
- To own the property in equal shares? or
- To own the property in unequal shares? (to protect any owner who is putting more money into the purchase than the other)
Option 1 is known as ‘Joint Tenants’ and Option 2 as ‘Tenants in Common’. It is important that this is recorded at the time of purchase as it is usually only possible to arrange for this to happen later if all the joint owners agree (which is rarely the case when there is a dispute). Otherwise, usually it is only if the couple is married or in a registered Civil Partnership that a Court has power to change property rights.
Owners who buy as tenants in common will be advised to enter into a Declaration of Trust – a deed to set out their respective interests in the proceeds of sale and matters relating to this.
Importance of making a Will
It is very important that joint owners make Wills or update these at the time of a new purchase.
It is particularly important for a cohabiting couple to make Wills, whatever their choice of joint ownership. These can address practical issues like: Who is the executor with the right to make funeral arrangements? Who do the contents belong to? Is there any provision to pay off the mortgage? Who will benefit from life insurance? Can the surviving owner afford to pay a mortgage on their own? Can they stay in the home?
Wards Solicitors’ specialist help
As part of our Conveyancing service our conveyancers will advise joint purchasers of joint ownership issues and prepare any Declaration of Trust.
Advice with regard to Wills and/or Inheritance Tax, or Lasting Powers of Attorney/Living Wills can be obtained from our Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity Team.
Wards Solicitors also has a specialist Cohabitation Team. A couple who do not intend to marry or enter in to a civil partnership, may wish to consider a Cohabitation Agreement, an uncomplicated way of setting out who owns what and what would happen if the relationship were to end. It can be as detailed as the couple wish, covering contents, personal belongings, savings, pets and how much each person contributed to the mortgage deposit and subsequent payments.
Although a Cohabitation Agreement often incorporates a Declaration of Trust, this on its own will deal only with the shares held in the property purchased, how the proceeds of sale will be divided if the property is sold as well as things like who is going to pay the mortgage and in what proportions.
As well as advising on how cohabiting couples can protect themselves legally and financially when they move in together or buy a property, the Cohabitation Team can also help when things go wrong and there is no Cohabitation Agreement or Declaration of Trust in place.
We will always do everything we can to help settle differences by negotiation, mediation or, as a last resort, going to court.
For more information, visit our Cohabitation pages.
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