Buying property together – what happens if you split up or a partner dies?
When you buy a home as a couple, you’re usually looking forward to the future and the memories you’ll make there. Yet as unthinkable as it may be at such a time, you also need to think about what would happen if one of you were to die or if you were to separate.
How your property is held affects what happens to it in these difficult situations and it’s important that you seek advice about the correct way to buy.
There are three ways to hold a property. You can do so as joint tenants, tenants in common in equal shares and tenants in common in unequal shares.
Joint tenancy is the most common form used by married couples and means that if one of you dies the property passes to the spouse. Tenancy in common is used if you want to specify what happens to your share of the property, such as passing it on to another relative. If it’s equal shares you each own the same amount of the value of the property and if it’s unequal then it’s specified how much each of you owns.
More and more couples are buying properties unmarried and if that’s you then you should consider whether you need any form of protection if you split up. That’s not nice to think about when you’re making such a long-term commitment to each other but none of us really knows what life will throw at us down the years.
A Declaration of Trust sets out clearly the percentage or monetary value you have both put into the property and stops it being sold without both your signatures. However, you have to ensure your will reflects how the property is held and what you want to happen to your share on death.
These are matters your solicitor or conveyancer can help you navigate and work out which form of property holding is best for you and how to ensure that you are both treated fairly.
Once this is done the unthinkable – the prospect of death or separation – can be forgotten about and you can get on with building your life in your new home.
Sharon can be contacted for advice through www.mfgsolicitors.com or by calling 0845 55 55 321.