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Joint Tenancy

Most couples own their principal place of residence as joint tenants. This means that if one person dies, their notional half share of the property passes automatically to the surviving joint tenant without reference to their Will. All that is required to transfer the property into the name of the surviving partner or spouse is to lodge a Notice of Death and the Death Certificate with the Titles Office.  The same applies to joint bank accounts, jointly owned shares and most other jointly owned assets.

Tenants In Common In Equal Shares

If you own your home as tenants in common in equal shares, this allows you to deal with your half share of the property in accordance with your Will or transfer your half share of the property to whoever you wish (this would be subject to the consent of your bank if you have a mortgage and may not be completely practical with your joint co-owner). You can use your Will to leave your half share of the property to whoever you wish. Once again, leaving your half share to someone who does not get on with your existing co-owner may be completely impractical. A more common device is to leave your spouse or partner a life interest or life tenancy in the home until they pass away.  This means that you can create a life interest in your half share of the property and leave this to your spouse or partner for their use during their life time and then it will pass to your children or whoever you wish to nominate as the designated beneficiary. Not only is this a good way to ensure that the asset passes on to who you want it to go to, it also protects your surviving spouse or partner from predators and creditors who may come out of the woodwork after you have died.

Get advice on your Wills and Estate Planning before you decide on which tenancy to use

You can save yourself a lot of time, effort and money by getting some advice before you nominate the type of tenancy that you wish to apply to the property that you own. A good example is a couple buying a house who both have children from previous marriages.  Quite often they will wish their half share of the property to eventually go to their own children but they would also like their spouse or partner to be looked after during their lifetime. This would be a perfect case where they should own the property as tenants in common in equal shares and deal with their half share of their property in their Will.

Another good example is younger couples who are concerned that their surviving spouse or partner may re-marry or enter into another relationship if they die.  Once again, holding the property as tenants in common in equal shares enables them to safeguard their half share of their home so that this can be kept in trust for their children and not be put at risk by someone’s future spouse or partner.

Should you require any further information in relation to this issue, please do not hesitate to contact our Property and Commercial Department Manager, Holly Gilhomle on 07 5506 8202 or Freecall 1800 621 071 or email

Visit our Conveyancing web-page for more information and articles. We have a specialist Conveyancing team that has senior commercial lawyers, licenced conveyancers and highly trained and supervised paralegals to get the job done.

With four offices conveniently located at Coolangatta | Robina | Brisbane | Kingscliff , you can also visit an office near you.

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Barry van Heerden

Barry van Heerden

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  • Property and Commercial
  • Direct line: (07) 5506 8248
  • Mobile: 0403 452 455