Q: My partner flatly refuses to make a Will simply because he doesn’t like talking about death! He says we own our home together so if he dies it will automatically pass to me, and I have plenty of my own money to live off, and his children will automatically inherit everything else he has. Is it really as simple as this?
A: Firstly, you should check whether you own your home as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common, as this affects how the property passes after the death of one of the owners.
With property owned by Tenants in Common, each owner owns a defined share in the property. This is often how property is held if one party has put more money into the property than the other. The ratio of ownership is agreed between the parties, who are then best advised to draw up a Declaration of Trust defining how many shares in the property each owns and what happens to those shares if one of them dies or wishes to sell their share. You may wish to hold your property as tenants in common even if you wish to hold equal 50% shares. Without a Will in place, the rules of intestacy prescribes which members of the deceased’s family receive what of their estate, including property.
If two (or more) people own a home as Joint Tenants, it means they own the whole property together and if one of them dies the property automatically passes to the survivor(s) under the rights of survivorship. However, when two people own a home together and they are not married it can be a little more complicated if one of them dies intestate. For example, there may be inheritance tax implications depending on the value of the property.
To avoid complications later on, it is advisable to make a Will and update it regularly as changes in the law and individual circumstances could affect its original intentions.
This question has been answered by Ulia Choudhry, a Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194