Many people are unaware of how their property is owned and therefore they don’t fully understand the implications on the different type of property ownership.
I advise clients regularly on setting up various types of trust to protect their properties for differing reasons, and 60% of the time, they don’t know how their property is owned – that is, how it is recorded on HM Land Registry.
When you purchase a Property or Land in England & Wales, there are two ways in which it can be owned or ‘registered’ with Land Registry. These are either as ‘Joint Tenants’ or ‘Tenants in Common’. It is very important to consider the ownership options and understand the differences at the outset, as the way in which you own the property can have a significant impact on what happens to the property on your death.
Tenants in Common
Owning and having a property registered as Tenants in Common (TIC) means that the property is owned by each owner having a specific share in the property, for instance spouses who each own 50% of the property. These shares can be equal or unequal depending on what is preferred/required by the people who own the property.
If you own property on a TIC basis, it means that if one owner dies, the deceased owner’s share passes in accordance with the wishes in that persons Will. If a will has not been made by the deceased, then the deceased’s share is distributed in accordance with the Laws of Intestacy.
Owning and registering property as joint tenants means that the whole property is owned by both owners absolutely. Or to put it a simpler way, each owner is deemed to own 100% of the property as they do not have separate shares each as is the case with TIC.
This means that as the property owners do not have a defined share they cannot make provision in their Will for the distribution of the property to their loved ones. This is because if one of the joint tenants were to die, the surviving tenant automatically becomes the owner of the whole property.
Joint tenancy has previously been the most popular choice when it comes to how a property is owned, however, nowadays with more and more people having increasingly complex situations, and being worried about residential home fees as they grow older, this is now not always the case.
If you currently own your property on a joint tenancy basis you should consider your wishes for that property when you die. Particularly with regards making a Will or reviewing an existing one to ensure your wishes for your property can be carried out correctly by the executors of your estate.
How do I find out my current Property Ownership?
For those of you that are very organised, or simply have a good memory and are able to dig out the original conveyancing paperwork, then you will be able to check how the property was purchased and how the names appear on the title deeds of the property.
Although not all, the majority of properties in England and Wales have a title number registered and recorded at HM Land Registry.
You will need to search the property register to check on what basis your property has been registered. This can be done on-line via the Land Registry Portal or you can ask your conveyancing solicitor for a copy of the title register.
Don’t be complacent, your property is often the most valuable asset to your family…
If you need further information then have a look on the links below or contact Sophie Vines in our legal department for further information.
HM Land Registry
Severing a joint Tenancy
Making a Will