If you hold an asset with one or more other people as joint tenants, then if one of those owners dies, that person’s interest in the asset will pass automatically to the other surviving owner(s) and regardless of what that person’s Will says (unless a court orders otherwise).
For example if Joe and Amanda own a property as joint tenants and Joe’s Will says that all of his assets are to go to his children on his death, then, if Joe dies before Amanda, Joe’s children will not inherit any part of the property that he owned with Amanda – Joe’s interest in that property will pass to Amanda (unless a court orders otherwise).
In many cases it is possible to bring the joint tenancy ownership arrangement to an end. In technical terms it is called “severing the joint tenancy”. Once a joint tenancy has been validly severed, the owners will own the asset as “tenants in common”.
If you hold an asset with one or more other people as tenants in common, then if one of those owners dies, that person’s interest in the asset will in accordance with that person’s Will (unless a court orders otherwise).
Whether an asset should be held as joint tenants or as tenants in common involves the consideration of a number of different issues – we can advise you on those issues.
Similarly, if you already own an asset with another person as joint tenants, we can advise you on whether the joint tenancy should be severed or not. Again, such a decision involves the consideration of a number of different issues – we can advise you on those issues.
If you own an asset with another person as joint tenants and one of those other joint owners takes steps to sever the joint tenancy, we can advise you on whether you are able to stop that change from occurring.
If you’re not sure whether you own an asset as joint tenants or tenants in common we can advise you.
We have lawyers who specialise in providing advice on Wills, estate planning and asset ownership structures.
If you would like legal advice on what’s right for you in your circumstances please contact us on 02 9635 7966.
We can meet with you in our office in Parramatta or in your home or office – what ever you prefer. Contact us if you want to update your Will or other estate planning documents.