When you purchase a property with another person (or people), there are two main ownership structures available to you.

If you purchase as joint tenants, you both own the whole of the property, with the other person’s share passing to you automatically should one of you pass away.

Owning as tenants in common means that you each own a percentage share of the property, which, should you wish, you can pass onto another beneficiary in your Will.

Signing a declaration of trust

If you own a property as tenants in common and each party owns a different share, it is important to set out ownership using a document called a declaration of trust. If you have contributed 70% of the deposit and your partner has contributed 30%, for example, you can log your respective shares in the declaration of trust to ensure that you receive the same percentage of the sale proceeds should you ever sell the property. You can also use the document to state the amounts you are each paying towards the mortgage.

If you are unmarried, it is particularly important to sign a declaration of trust because unmarried couples have very few rights under the law should their relationship break down. If you have not set out your share in the property via a legally binding document, you may not receive back the same share as you put in when the property is sold, which could have a significant financial impact.

The importance of a Will

It is important to note that a declaration of trust is not a substitute for a valid and professionally drafted Will. Having a declaration of trust in place does not mean that your property will automatically pass to your co-owner if you die without a Will (intestate). When this happens, intestacy laws apply and your estate will be distributed according to a hierarchy of close family members. Intestacy laws do not recognise unmarried partners, no matter how long they have been together.

Get your Will drafted

Protect your interests in your property today

If you are unmarried and own a property together with your partner, then a declaration of trust is a must-have document to ensure your money is protected.

Please do get in touch today on 0330 221 8855 or email wills@attwaters.co.uk to discuss your situation with our expert lawyers.

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