Will writing solicitors often say that when people believe they don’t need a Will, it is usually because they believe that the family home will automatically pass to their spouse or partner. And when people do write a Will it is out of concern about inheritance and the family home. They want to make sure their partner can continue to live at the property.
It may come as a surprise to many that if they jointly own a family home, their share in the property won’t necessarily pass by their Will (or under intestacy rules if they do not make a Will).
Whether your share in the family home passes under your Will or not depends on whether you own the jointly owned property as joint tenants or as tenants in common.
Read on to learn more about:
- Joint property ownership and estate planning
- The family home and your Will
- Severing a joint tenancy
- The family home and estate planning options
- Reviewing your Will
Joint Property Ownership And Estate Planning
When you write a Will, it is important to know if you own your jointly owned property as joint tenants or as tenants in common. Jointly owned property could be:
- The family home
- A holiday home
- A buy to let property
- Investment property
- Commercial property
The difference in type of joint ownership is important. Property owned as joint tenants is automatically inherited by your co-owners and property that is owned as tenants in common is different; if one co-owner dies, their share in the property passes via their Will. If they have not made a Will then their share in the property passes under intestacy laws.
The Family Home and Will Writing
Many people think they don’t need a Will as their house will automatically pass to their partner. That may be the case if you are married or you own the property as joint tenants. It won’t be the case if you own the jointly owned family home with your unmarried partner as tenants in common and you haven’t made a Will. That is because your share in the property will pass under intestacy rules. Unmarried partners do not benefit under those rules.
Your unmarried partner might be able to bring a claim against your estate. This Is only if they fall within the definition of a ‘dependant’ and there is a lack of reasonable financial provision for them. However, that involves uncertainty and expense, all of which can be avoided by taking legal advice and writing a will.
Severing A Joint Tenancy
If you jointly own a property, you may not want your co-owner to inherit your share when you die. Maybe you own a family home with a former spouse or own an investment property with a friend. To avoid the co-owner inheriting your share, you can sever the joint tenancy. This means you own the property as tenants in common. You don’t need your co-owners agreement or consent to do this.
When severing a joint tenancy there are two points to consider:
- You must make a Will; without a Will your share in the property will pass under intestacy rules. If you already have a Will, you should consider reviewing it. Make sure it is up to date and that it is inheritance tax efficient. You must minimise the risks of your Will being challenged.
- If you sever a joint tenancy and the co-owner passes away, their share of the property will pass under their Will or intestacy rules. If the joint tenancy had not been severed the property would have passed automatically to the co-owners.
Estate Planning Solutions And The Family Home
If your family circumstances are complicated you may be unsure as to what decision to make regarding a jointly owned property. Whether will writing is the best option, owning the property as joint tenants, or as tenants in common.
You may be concerned about leaving your share in the family home to a new partner. You might want to balance the needs of your new partner with the needs of your existing children.
There are a range of estate planning options to help you achieve a balance that you are comfortable with.
Reviewing Your Will
If you made your Will before you bought a jointly owned property, the value of your estate may have changed. This is why it is important to review your Will. You must ensure your share of your property passes to the person/people you want to leave it to. You should review your Will on a regular basis as family and financial circumstances change. This way, you minimise the risk of your Will being challenged and protect your loved ones.
For expert estate planning and help with your Will call our team of specialist Will writing lawyers.