What is Severance of Tenancy?
If you own your property jointly, either as a married couple, partners or friends, you will have chosen one of two kinds of joint ownership at equity. You will own your property as either:
- Beneficial joint tenants; or
- Tenants in common.
Equitable Joint Tenancies: each owner owns a potential 100% of the equity in property. Technically, joint tenants own the property ‘in trust’ for each other, so when one owner dies, the surviving owner(s) own the property automatically. It is not possible to dispose of property owned as equitable joint tenants in a Will.
Equitable Tenancies in Common: if the property is owned as equitable tenants in common, each person owns their share (typically 50/50 but can be any proportion) so that if one dies, their share of the property passes to a beneficiary named in their Will or according to the Rules of Intestacy.
Who is it for?
Severance of tenancy is very popular with couples (married or otherwise) seeking to protect their property and other assets from third party threats and/or the remarriage of the survivor. In these cases, clients often do not want the surviving owner to own more than their ‘share’. Severing a joint tenancy can put their wishes into effect.
At the same time as changing ownership, trusts would normally be written into a client's Will to support this arrangement.
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