Many clients ask to become “Tenants in Common” in the mistaken belief that it will save Inheritance Tax. Severing a Joint Tenancy is easy to do but commonly misunderstood. It can be a useful tax planning device but only when accompanied by specific provisions in a Will.
Couples often speak about owning their house “in equal shares” but in fact they own the property as “Joint Tenants”. If one were to die, the entire property will pass, at the moment of death, to the surviving co-owner. Severing the joint tenancy, and holding the property as “Tenants in Common” prevents this from happening and may, in some family circumstances, be a sensible thing to do.
In a recent case the law has been clarified as to when unusual circumstances might lead to a severance of the joint tenancy.
If you are unsure whether you could benefit from owning property as Tenants in Common, we would be happy to advise you on your specific requirements.