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When it comes to property ownership, there are various legal concepts and arrangements that individuals need to be aware of to protect their interests and ensure clarity in ownership rights.

One such concept is the ‘right of survivorship’.

Types of Ownership

To understand the right of survivorship, it’s important to first understand that land or property owned jointly by two or more people can be owned in one of two ways:

  • As joint tenants, where each co-owner owns 100% of the property. 
  • As tenants in common, where each co-owner has a distinct share in the property. Usually, shares are split equally, such as 50/50, but the split could be different, for example to reflect the financial contributions made by each person at the time of the purchase.

When purchasing a property, this question is usually asked of joint purchasers and not given much thought. However, the choice has significant implications, and can have serious consequences in the long term if not understood correctly.

What is the Right of Survivorship?

The right of survivorship is a legal principle that applies to joint ownership of property, particularly to real estate and bank accounts.

Under this principle, when two or more people own property as joint tenants and one co-owner dies, the property will automatically pass to the surviving owner(s). This occurs automatically, and so the property never forms part of the deceased’s estate or pass according to their will (or the rules of intestacy if there is no will).

The right of survivorship only applies to joint tenants. Therefore, if a property is owned as tenants in common and one owner dies, their share in the property will form part of their estate and pass according to their will (or the rules of intestacy).

Significance in Estate Planning

The right of survivorship can have significant implications for estate planning. By holding property as joint tenants with the right of survivorship, individuals can facilitate the seamless transfer of ownership to their intended beneficiaries without the need for probate proceedings. This can result in savings in time, expenses, and potential complications associated with probate.

However, it’s crucial to consider the implications of joint ownership carefully. While the right of survivorship offers simplicity and efficiency in transferring property, it may not align with everyone’s estate planning goals. For instance, individuals who wish to distribute their assets differently or provide for beneficiaries other than the co-owners may prefer alternative estate planning strategies.

Key Considerations

Before opting for joint ownership with the right of survivorship, it’s essential to consider the following factors;

Compatibility; Joint ownership requires a high level of trust and cooperation between co-owners. It’s crucial to ensure that all parties are comfortable with sharing ownership and understand the implications of the right of survivorship.

Legal advice; Consulting with a qualified solicitor or estate planner like Gillhams Solicitors is advisable when considering joint ownership arrangements. An experienced professional can provide guidance tailored to your specific circumstances and help you understand the legal implications of your decisions.

Estate planning goals; Evaluate your long-term estate planning goals and how joint ownership with the right of survivorship aligns with them. Consider factors such as family dynamics, asset distribution preferences, and potential tax implications.

Speak to our Experts About Right of Survivorship in Property Ownership

All in all, the right of survivorship is a fundamental legal principle that governs joint ownership of property, offering a streamlined mechanism for the transfer of ownership upon the death of a co-owner. While this arrangement can simplify estate planning and avoid probate proceedings, it’s essential to weigh the benefits and drawbacks carefully and seek professional advice to ensure that it aligns with your overall estate planning goals.

By understanding the basics of the right of survivorship and its implications, individuals can make informed decisions about property ownership and estate planning, ultimately protecting their interests and providing for their loved ones effectively. Should you wish to find out more from a highly experienced and recommended specialist, then look no further than Gillhams Solicitors

Our experts on hand to help you understand the right of survivorship in property ownership in more depth, all you need to do is contact us today. This can be done by giving us a call on 020 8965 4266, email us at or complete our online contact form and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have as well as organise our services to suit your needs.