Should we change to Tenants in Common?

Becoming tenants in common

Should we change to ‘tenants in common’?

There are two main ways to own a property with somebody else in England. You can either be ‘beneficial joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’. The distinction between the two becomes very important when it comes to making a Will.

Joint beneficial tenants

The majority of people are beneficial joint tenants – we often mean this when we say that we own a property jointly. This can be really useful, as it means that if one owner dies, the survivor inherits their equity in the property automatically. It means that the administration of the estate is simpler, with the deceased owner’s name being removed with a simple form and copy of a death certificate. This is why many estates don’t need probate on the death of a spouse, civil partner or partner.

Tenants in common

All that said, being tenants in common gives you more options when it comes to making a Will. For example, if you want to leave your share of a property into a trust for your spouse. This can be a protective measure against the following risks:

  • Remarriage by the survivor (sideways disinheritance) or bankruptcy of the survivor
  • If the survivor needs to go into residential care (the estate could later be swallowed up in care fees)
  • The survivor changing their Will so that your wishes aren’t followed
  • Your children from a previous relationship being forgotten

To protect the property in this way you need to own it as tenants in common.  It’s a little bit like splitting the property in half and is most often done in equal shares. It can be done quite easily as part of the process of making or updating your Wills.

There are some other reasons to be tenants in common, such as:

  • To reflect an unequal ownership, for example if one person put more money into the purchase of a property. This might also be supported by a Declaration of Trust stating who owns what.
  • Where you’ve inherited a property with a sibling, and you wouldn’t want your share to pass to them if you died
  • Particularly for unmarried couples, it can make it easier to sell your share of the property if a relationship ends (without the permission of the other owner).

Why not talk to us today about what option is best for you? Give us a call on 01473 358195 or go to


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