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Two trustees needed when selling a property held as Tenants in Common

While dealing with a conveyancing transaction involving a deceased co owner, the issue of ownership as tenants in common arose and what to do where one co owner dies. The surviving co owner was the deceased’s wife. As the deceased did not sever the tenancy in common before he died, the restriction in the Land Registry’s Proprietorship register remained in place preventing the sale of the property going ahead without two trustees. It ended up being straightforward, however, since all we had to do was to appoint another trustee in order to facilitate the sale and the Transfer had to be drafted to reflect this. (To complicate matters though the wife could not locate the death certificate of her late husband so she found herself waiting at the local Registry office for a duplicate on the morning of exchange of contracts!).  

In the case of joint ownership of property it is very important to understand the implications of owning as joint tenants or tenants in common. With a joint tenancy, where one co owner dies the others automatically take the deceased’s share of the property without it going through probate. However, with a tenancy in common, where one co owner dies, their share will pass under their Will or in accordance with the laws of Intestacy.

When buying a property or simply transferring a property into joint names careful consideration should be given to the way in which the property should be owned and what is suitable for your needs. You can always change your mind at a later date if your circumstances change.

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