If you and partner decide to live together and buy a property, the last thing on your mind are the legal aspects of living together.
Sadly the law provides very little protection for unmarried couples and you will have very few financial rights if you separate or one of you dies.
So when you decide to buy a property with your partner, it is essential to make sure that the matter of property ownership is sorted out properly. Always seek legal advice. There are two main ways that you can own property together either as âjoint tenantsâ or âtenants in commonâ.
- 1.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â JOINT TENANTS
If you own the property as joint tenants, it means that you will each have an equal interest in the property. If one of you dies before the other, the share of the deceased will pass automatically to the surviving partner.
It is important to note, that if you own the property as joint tenants, even if you or your partner has made a will, the surviving partner will still receive their share of the property regardless of what the will might say and even if the will states otherwise.
On the other hand, if you or your partner own a property as joint tenants and one of you dies without a will and the deceasedâs assets are distributed under the law of intestacy, the surviving partner will still inherit the share of the property.
Aside from the above, apart from the property rights as a cohabitee, there are no automatic rights to any of your partners other assets. This is why if you are living with someone else and not married why it is essential that you both make a will.
- 2.Â Â Â Â Â TENANTS IN COMMON
If you and your partner decide to own the property both as tenants in common, you do not necessarily own equal shares. This way of possessing the property could be effective if you both have made unequal contributions towards the purchase price and want this to be reflected in the ownership and also furthermore on the split of the proceeds following a sale of the property.
Another aspect of tenants in common is that your shares are separate from each other. This means that if one of you dies before the other, the share of the person who has died does not automatically pass to the other. Instead, it will pass according to any will that the deceased may have made or if there is no will then under the law of intestacy.
If you decide that you both want to own the property as tenants in common, you should obtain legal advice as to whether you should enter into a declaration of trust deed that clearly sets out who owns what and why. This document is best drafted by a solicitor. The declaration of trust deed is a binding agreement between you both regarding the property which allows you both to regulate what will happen to the property if you separate.
There are vital differences between the two types of property arrangements with very different effects upon death, so it is important that you are able to distinguish between them and choose the option that has is most suitable for you and your partner.
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