Legal & Co | Joint tenancies
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A severance of tenancy changes the way in which you own your property from Joint tenants to tenants in common. As Joint tenants, on the death of one co-owner, the property will pass to the surviving co-owner(s) automatically by survivorship.
If you hold your property as tenants in common then you are able to leave your share of your property to your chosen beneficiaries, under your Will. This arrangement is commonly used for tax planning purposes.
You cannot sever your tenancy if the house is already in your sole name.
Where there is a discrepancy between who owns the legal title to a property, and who actually owns the underlying beneficial interest, a declaration of trust can be drawn up which is a document that can set out the agreement in writing.
The main benefit of preparing such a document is to provide written evidence of the agreement between the parties as to who owns the underlying beneficial and equitable interests in the property. The declaration of trust will provide clear evidence of your agreement and intention at the date it is signed.

Examples of where it is used are:

  • where boyfriend/girlfriend own a property in their joint names, but they provided different contributions to the purchase price, e.g. 25% and 75%, and wish their contributions to be reflected in a legal document; or
  • where a husband or wife owns the legal title to their property in their sole name, and the other spouse (by consent) wishes the underlying beneficial interest (i.e. the net sale proceeds) to be reflected in a legal document.

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