By Juliet Phillips-James, Director, Gomer Williams (as featured in the Llanelli Star)
Q. I am in the process of buying a house with my partner. Could you clarify the difference between us owning the property as joint tenants and tenants in common?
A. You are correct in that legally there are two types of joint ownership — joint tenants and tenants in common. There are pros and cons to each and it all depends on your individual circumstances on opting on the best for you.
Joint tenants means you and your partner share equal ownership of the property. You will have an equal, undivided right to keep or sell the property. If you or your partner die, the property will automatically pass to the survivor, irrespective of any provision in the deceased's will leaving their 'share' to someone else.
With tenants in common, you and your partner would have a definite share in the property. For example you could own equal shares, or if you provided the deposit you could have a larger share to reflect your contribution.
In the event of either you or your partner dying, your respective shares would pass under the terms of your will, or intestacy where there is no will. On the assumption that you are unmarried it would therefore be important to make wills where you wish your respective shares to go to each other.
Based on the above information you will need to decide on the most appropriate form of ownership for you. For example joint tenancy is common between married couples where they would want the property to automatically pass to the surviving spouse.
Tenants in common is often used for tax planning and with couples where there are children from a previous relationship and they want their share to pass to their children. Often wills will be drawn up allowing the surviving partner or spouse to continue living at the property, and upon their death the first deceased's share will then pass under the terms of their will.
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