There are various ways in which you can own your home. These are:
- Jointly – as joint tenants
- Jointly – as tenants in common
If you own your property as joint tenants, this means that upon your death, your share in the property will automatically pass to the surviving joint owner. The property is owned as a whole, by the joint owners and this happens regardless of the contents of your Will, if you have one. This is also known as “survivorship”.
If you own your property as tenants in common, rather than owning it as a whole, you each own a share (this may be an equal or unequal share) in the property. Whatever your share in the property, at the date of your death, you should pass that share via your Will to someone other than the person you own the property with. This is a very popular way to deal with your property in your Will, should you have a blended family i.e. children from previous relationships.
Another reason why owning your property as tenants in common is useful, is if you are looking to protect your share in your home in the event that the survivor of you needs to go into care. Once the first person passes away, their share can be held in trust for their child(ren)/other beneficiaries, meaning that the share is completely protected by the trust. Only the share of the surviving owner, who is then in care, can be used towards payment of that care. If you own the property jointly as joint tenants and as the survivor you go into care, there is a strong possibility that the full value of the property will be used towards your care fees, meaning that your chosen beneficiaries may not receive anything, upon your death.
Our team come across a lot of couples who are unhappy at the thought of working all of their lives, for their property then to be eaten up by care home fees, when they would rather it be passed down to their children/beneficiaries. Therefore, if they are joint tenancy property owners and want to separate their property into shares, we can advise on this and arrange for this to happen for our clients when drafting their Wills.
When leaving your share in your home to someone other than the joint owner, we also include a clause called a ‘Life Interest Trust’ in your Will. This enables the surviving joint owner to remain in the property for the rest of their days, completely secure. Again, this is popular with families with stepchildren, who maybe do not get along with their step parent and this enables the step parent to remain in the property without the worry that the property could be sold from under them.
If you are concerned about the above or require help making or amending your current Will, please contact our specialised team, Kelly or Kirsty on 0330 400 4040 or on firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be more than happy to explain how this may benefit you and your loved ones.