tenants in common

This month’s No Malarkey is the third of six items that examines what comprises one’s estate.

Here we discuss a person’s share of any assets jointly owned as tenants in common.

While this principle of ownership as tenants in common applies to all manner of asset, we’ll concentrate here on land and buildings. With this arrangement on the death of one of the owners of the asset, the ownership of the deceased party’s share passes by the terms of the deceased’s will or the rules of intestacy. The owners thus have the opportunity to designate on the ownership records and especially at land registry what proportions each party holds. If there is no indication to the contrary, the owners hold the asset in equal shares.

Amy had some cash of her own, enough that when she went to Brighton to master civil engineering, she and her uncle bought a flat as tenants in common – uncle owned 44% of the flat and Amy the remainder. On graduation Amy moved to Belfast, and the Brighton flat was held as rental property. On her uncle’s death at 87, his will left his share of the flat to a trust of which Amy’s mum Meera was the beneficiary in the first instance and then further generations of Meera’s family. We note the uncle’s share of the asset passed by his will. If he’d had no will, his share would have been distributed by the rules of intestacy. Without a will, Amy would have got the deceased uncle’s share only if it had come to her by the rules of intestacy.

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