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Survivorship and property inheritance

Many people make specific bequests of their property to a loved one in their Wills. Unfortunately, such specific bequest can fail dependent on how the property was owned. There are two ways in which the equitable interest in a property can be held:
Tenants in commonThe property is owned by two (or sometimes more) co-owners in specified shares, usually, but not always, equally.  When property is held this way, you are free to deal with your share of the property as you wish. In the event of your death, your share of the property will pass under the terms of your Will to your chosen beneficiary.
What is a beneficial joint tenant?If you own a property as beneficial joint tenants, either as a married couple, with a partner, or a friend,  in the event that your co-owner dies, the whole of the property passes to the survivor, outside the terms of your Will. This means that any gift of a property owned in this way under the terms of your Will, will fail and your chosen beneficiary will not receive your share in the property.This is called ‘survivorship’ and is a leading cause of complaint when properties are left to people in a Will.
How can I resolve a survivorship issue?The best thing to do is to seek legal advice from a specialist wills and probate lawyer. Inheritance issues, especially as it relates to property ownership can be quite complex, so it’s well worth taking the time to get the right legal advice and guidance.

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