The Eric Whitehead Partnership

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The purchase of a property is perhaps the single most important financial transaction anyone enters into in their lifetime.  When a person purchases a property with someone else it is of the utmost importance that the parties are aware of the ways in which they can legally own the property.

Specifically, it is absolutely essential that they are aware of the difference between the legal concepts of Joint Tenants and Tenants in Common.


When property is conveyed to two or more persons as Joint Tenants then on the death of either or any of them the property automatically passes to the survivor(s) without, and indeed in spite of, any Will.  The Estate of the deceased takes no interest in the property.


When property is conveyed to two or more persons as Tenants in Common in certain shares (say, half each) then when one dies his or her Estate will be entitled to the deceased’s share and it will form part of the Estate to be dealt with under the deceased person’s Will or Intestacy.  It will not pass to the survivor(s) automatically.

Which form of ownership joint owners should opt for when they purchase a property depends upon personal choice and particular circumstances. A Joint Tenancy is most commonly adopted by married couples where there is perceived to be no advantage in defining separate shares in the property and where it would be the intention that on the first death the property would automatically pass to the surviving spouse. The alternative basis of a Tenancy in Common will often be used between brothers and sisters, parents and children, unmarried couples, business partners, friends and the like. In these circumstances, it might be desirable for specific shares in the property to be identified.

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