Joint ownership of
property issues

How is jointly owned property affected by a Will?

We are often asked about how jointly owned property is affected by the terms of a Will. Put simply, there are two ways of owning property jointly, and these are known as having a 'joint tenancy' or a 'tenancy in common'.

In the case of 'real property' (such as a house), the nature of the tenancy is recorded on the title of the property and cannot be changed after the death of a person. For other property—such as bank accounts, personal effects and motor vehicles—the law presumes that the property is held as a joint tenancy unless there is some other evidence to the contrary.

Joint tenancy vs tenancy in common

In a joint tenancy, both parties are considered to own the whole property. This means that in the event of the death of one person, the property will pass entirely to the other person, regardless of the terms of their Will. For example if one party of a joint tenancy dies, their entire share of the asset goes to the living party—even if the deceased's Will states that their share is to be inherited by a beneficiary.

However, in a tenancy in common, each party owns a fixed share of the property, so when one co-owner dies, their share of the property is passed on in accordance with the terms of their Will.

Ensuring that tenancies are dealt with appropriately is an important part of estate planning, and estate administration.

Why Maurice Blackburn?

At Maurice Blackburn, we offer our Wills, estates and trusts legal services on a 'no win, no fee'* basis, which means that you don't pay our fees if we don't win your case. If you have any questions about joint ownership, or if you need help resolving any matters related to a Will, trust or estate, contact us to speak with an expert in the field.

We have offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin and throughout Australia, so speak to Maurice Blackburn today. We fight for fair.

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Whether you are thinking of challenging or contesting a Will, or if you are the executor or beneficiary of a Will that is being challenged, our Will disputes lawyers can assist you.

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