Couples that own their property in joint names are said to own that property as ‘joint tenants’.
This will mean that when one joint tenant dies, that person’s share of the property will automatically and immediately pass to the surviving joint tenant. The property will then be owned solely by the surviving joint tenant who will be permitted to deal with the property in any way he / she wishes.
Nearly all couples own their property and bank accounts as joint tenants. It is important that you check as soon as possible to see how you and your spouse/civil partner own your property. If you and your spouse/civil partner or unmarried partner own your property as joint tenants, then this property will pass to you outside of the Will when your partner passes away and you will become the sole owner.
You will still be required to transfer the title of the property into your sole name. You may need a lawyer to help you arrange the transfer.
You and your spouse / civil partner or unmarried partner may also own your property as tenants in common in specified shares. For example, you own a 75% share of the property and your partner a 25% share. In this situation, you will not automatically receive your partner’s share of the property and their share will pass under their Will. You should consider getting legal advice if this is the case.
You should note however that owning property jointly in New South Wales will not protect this property from a legal claim by another person against the Estate. If that person is successful in their claim, the property may be transferred to them or sold to make financial provision for them.
For information on challenging a Will, click here.