Severance Of A Joint Tenancy
There are two ways to jointly own a property:
1. Joint tenants
When a property is owned by two people as joint tenants, they both own the whole of the property. In the event that one joint owner dies, the entire property would automatically pass to the surviving joint owner. This is the case regardless as to whether the deceased had a Will or not.
2. Tenants in common
When a property is owned by two people as tenants in common, they each own a notional share in the property. Unless the share is expressly declared in a document such as a Declaration of Trust, the owners will be considered to own the property in equal shares. In the event that one joint owner dies, their 50% share in the property passes according to their Will or if they do not have a Will, according to the laws of intestacy. The deceased’s share in the property does not automatically pass to the surviving joint owner.
Once a couple separate, it may take some time to finalise financial negotiations or deal with the joint property. During that interim period, it is often the case that if either party were to pass away, due to the fact that they have separated, they would not want the survivor to inherit their share in the property.
In order to protect your share in property owned as joint tenants, it is possible to sever the joint tenancy. This can be done either with or without the consent of the other joint owner and is a relatively straight forward process which we can deal with on your behalf. The process includes giving notice to the other joint owner to sever the joint tenancy and lodging an application form with the Land Registry.
It is advisable to ensure that your Wills are up to date at all times and reflect your current assets and wishes. At Watson Thomas we have a specialised Private Client department who can advise you in relation to the preparation of new Wills or review of an existing Will.
Please contact us to discuss any queries you may have regarding protecting your assets upon divorce or separation and we would be more than happy to help.