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Wills: What Happens When You Aren’t Married & Own Property Together?

As a couple in a relationship, it’s only natural to want to protect each other’s interests both today and in the future – but whether your interest in the property you both own will pass to your partner if you die depends on the type of property ownership and if you have a Will.

If you’re not married and own property together, make sure you understand the possible consequences of what happens to your share should you both die at the same time.

Types Of Property Ownership

Joint Tenants

With property owned by unmarried couples as Joint Tenants, if you die then the property you both own automatically passes to your surviving partner.

However, if you and your partner die at the same time and in circumstances that make it uncertain who died first, you would be deemed to have died in order of age seniority. The property then becomes part of the younger partner’s estate and passes to the beneficiaries named in their Will or to those entitled to inherit under the rules of intestacy if there is no Will.

As a guide, owning a property as Joint Tenants means:

  • You both have equal rights to the whole property
  • The rule of survivorship applies meaning the property automatically passes to the surviving owner
  • Your do not own a share in the property and therefore your interest cannot be passed to someone else in your Will
  • You can decide together who you want to inherit the property should you both die at the same time, and name this person as your beneficiary in your Wills

Tenants In Common

With property owned by unmarried couples as Tenants in Common, your share only passes to your surviving partner if you die provided you have stated this in your Will – this doesn’t happen automatically.

You can choose to own the property equally or state a defined share each, and the respective share would pass in accordance to your Wills or to the rules of intestacy when you die.

If you were to die at the same time as your partner and there is uncertainty over which one survived the other, the property would not automatically pass to the younger person’s estate.

To avoid any disputes in the future, it’s a good idea to draw up a Trust Deed that sets out the shares you and your partner own and exactly what happens if one of you die or you both die at the same time or your relationship breaks down. This ensures your Will is legally watertight and that the property can’t be sold without consent from both parties.

As a guide, owning a property as Joint Tenants means:

  • You each own a defined share of the property
  • Your share does not automatically pass to the surviving owner
  • Your share can be passed to someone else if you state this wish in your Will

How We Can Help You Write A Will

If you own a property with your partner but aren’t married, it’s important to write a Will that states exactly what should happen to your share of your property if you die and what happens to the entire property should you and your partner both die at the same time.

Our specialist Wills and Probate solicitors will advise you on every aspect of your Will, including the best way for you and your partner to own your property – to ensure you and your partner’s interests are protected, today and in the future.

To speak to one of our wills and probate solicitors at our Hoole office in Chester about making a Will, contact us on freephone 0800 988 3674 or Chester: 01244 311 633 or email advice@bartletts.co.uk