Owning your property
If you are buying a property in joint names, our residential property solicitors will advise you as to whether the purchase should be as "joint tenants" or "tenants in common". These terms have very different significance upon ownership of the property and it is important that you fully understand your legal rights.
If you already own, or were to purchase a property, as beneficial joint tenants then all the owners would have an equal share in the property. When one of the owners dies, his/her share will automatically pass to the surviving owner.
If there is more than one surviving owner, then it will pass to those remaining in equal shares. The deceased's joint tenants' interest does not pass under his/her will. It is, however, still an asset of the estate for inheritance tax purposes.
Tenants in common
As beneficial tenants in common, it is possible that the owners could have different or unequal interests in the property. When one of the joint owners dies, holding property with another, as tenants in common, his/her share does not pass to the surviving owner(s). The deceased's share can either be gifted to whoever they so please under their will, or if the deceased owner unfortunately dies without a will then their share will pass under the rules of intestacy.
Ultimately this could mean that the deceased's share could pass to a third party who was not envisaged by the deceased. That person may ultimately try to force a sale of the property on order to realise their share. Our experienced residential property lawyers can help you consider how you should own your property and ensure that the person who you would like to benefit on your death, will in fact benefit.
We can also advise clients on the merits of gifting an investment property into trust for children and/or grandchildren. This is becoming increasingly more popular and can be the ideal solution if a rental income may not be needed and the capital tied up in the property is not likely to be required.
Trusts can play an extremely important role in family wealth planning, but they are not straightforward – our experienced team of trust lawyers can advise on the various tax implications which may apply and the inheritance tax charges and thresholds to consider.
If you have assets you feel you may never need to access, or if you have received an inheritance recently, a review could prove a very worthwhile exercise.