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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
Many people do not know whether they own their house as joint tenants or tenants in common. It is really important to know the difference because it determines what happens when you die.
Joint tenants means that you and the other owner own the whole of the house together. If one of you dies, the other owns the whole house by themselves whether or not you have a Will, and even if your Will says, or tries to say, that the house is meant to go to someone else.
It is useful to own property as joint tenants if you are a married couple, but in other circumstances it might be more useful to own your property as tenants in common.
If you own property as tenants in common, you can decide what percentage each of you has and when you die, your percentage goes under the terms of your Will, or if you do not have a Will goes under the terms of the intestacy rules. This is one reason why is important to have a Will to make sure that the right people inherit.
It is useful to own a property as tenants in common if you have each put in different amounts to the purchase price, or you own with someone other than your spouse, or want to make sure that you can protect your inheritance by passing it down to your children following a life interest trust rather than passing it directly to your spouse on the first death.
It is your own specific circumstances that will make a difference as to how you should own your property, and it may be that you change the ownership over time.
To discuss this further, please contact one of the team so that we can review the ownership of your property and make sure that you have an appropriate Will in place.