When preparing to make your Will you first need to know what you
own, what it’s worth and what you owe.But before you do this it is important to understand the rules governing property ownership. The principle reason for knowing this is that you cannot leave property that you do not own.
If you are single, have no minor children and own all your property
outright, with no shared ownership, you will have little problem. You
are free to leave your property to whoever you wish and to whatever
institutions you wish.
However if you own any property in shared ownership - such as joint
ownership or ownership in common - you will need to understand
how this affects your right to give away this property by your Will.
Where property is held by more than one person as JOINT OWNERS
in equity on the death of one joint owner his interest automatically
passes by survivorship to the surviving joint owner(s).
Jointly owned property will pass to the survivor no matter how short
the period of survivorship may be and despite anything said to the
contrary in the Will. For this reason it may be appropriate to sever
(split) a joint ownership inter vivos (during lifetime) see Ownership
Apart from the obvious, the family home, some other types of
property pass on death independently of the terms specified in the
These include nominated property, Life Assurance Policies, Pension
and Death in Service Benefits, Joint Bank accounts.
Ownership in common
Where land or property is held by more than one person as
OWNERSHIP IN COMMON, the share of each co-owner in common
passes on his death under his Will or intestacy.
Each owner in common is free to leave his beneficial interest (his
share) to whoever he wants, however this can cause problems for the
survivor particularly in the case of the matrimonial (or family) home.
The surviving spouse/civil partner/unmarried partner could be
forced to sell the property to settle the gift entitlement to the
beneficiary. A simple solution to this is to give the survivor a ‘life
interest’ in the property, enabling them to remain living in the house
as long as they wish or for the remainder of their lifetime . It is only
when the survivor dies that the intended named beneficiary in the
Will can benefit and take the gift of the house (or the proceeds of the
Severing an ownership agreement
To sever a joint ownership to ownership in common requires one
party to notify the other as to their intention to do so, with the other
party/parties signs in agreement.
Both (or all) co-owners sign a Notice of Severance of Joint Tenancy,
in effect notifying each other (or all co-owners) of the intention to
sever the existing ownership status.
Where the property is subject to a mortgage or other loan, the
mortgagee (lender) should be notified and the severance registered
on the deeds through the local Land Registry Office.
Paul Humphreys will be able to advise you further on the action that
you need to be taking and many will undertake to complete the entire
procedure on your behalf as part of our service.
property passes to survivor regardless of instructions in
property will pass irrespective of survivorship period
Tenants in common
ability to ‘gift’ your share of the property upon your death
the family home may be your main legacy to your children -
severance of tenancy can help protect the property from
future unforeseen situations - a life interest in your share will protect
your spouse from having to sell