Chris Lamb

Severance of Joint Tenancy

A Severance of Joint Tenancy is the alteration of ownership between joint owners of a property. If you own your property jointly, either as a married couple, partners or friends, you will have chosen one of two kinds of ownership. You will own your property either as:
  • Beneficial joint tenants; or
  • Tenants in common.
As joint tenants, each person owns 100% of the property at the same time as the other. So when one owner dies, the survivors own the property automatically whatever one persons’ Will might state. If the property is owned as tenants in common, each person owns a share, so if one dies, their share of the property passes to a beneficiary named in their Will or according to the rules of intestacy.

Severance of Joint Tenancy is very popular with couples (married or otherwise) seeking to protect the house and other assets from third party threats and/or the remarriage of the survivor. In these cases, clients often do not want the surviving owner to own more than their ‘share’. To prevent this from happening the client first of all needs to own an individual share. A Severance of Joint Tenancy achieves this by changing the ownership from Joint Tenants to Tenants in Common.

At the same time as changing ownership, Trusts would normally be written into the Will documents to support this arrangement.