These days, couples often buy a property even before they get married. They are sure that they will be together forever and fail to do their research on how ownership should be structured or think into the long-term effects of co-owning a property. Consult with Chan & Naylor chartered accountants to know which structure is best for you.
This is very important. In Australia, you have two ways to do co-ownership: joint tenancy and tenancy in common agreement. Both ways allow you to own a share of the property but the structures have different consequences depending on your agreement.
Joint tenants own the property jointly together equally and their interests are not distinct or separate from each other, regardless who the main contributor to the deposit or mortgage is. For example, even if one partner pays more off the mortgage, his or her stake in the asset won’t increase. It also does not have a severable share so if a partner passes away, the other one will automatically receive the ownership of the property. The partners will also incur full responsibility for the debt and cannot leave their share in a jointly owned property to their beneficiaries.
Tenancy in common, on the other hand, allow each partner a separate and distinct individual share in the property. The share could be at 50% or in any other proportion. The percentages are described on the Certificate of Title and if there are no percentages, it is understood to be held as tenants in common.
Even if you separate from your partner, you can maintain your share under a tenancy in common but the family court will take the asset as part of a joint asset pool. In case of death, the share does not automatically default to the other but instead be delegated according to their will. However, your mortgage under tenancy in common is a shared responsibility and banks practice joint and several liabilities between all parties. The other is responsible for any defaults and repayments.
When you’re ready to buy, make sure to instruct your solicitor or conveyancers if you want the structure to be tenancy in common as it is often assumed to be joint tenancy. If you’re unsure, contact your accountant especially in case of second marriages and children from a first marriage.
If you would like to know more about property ownership structures, you can click here to know more about Chan & Naylor services. You can leave your details here and Chan & Naylor chartered accountants can schedule you for a free consultation. We’ll contact you to explain more.
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