Severance of Joint Tenancy

If you own a property that is in your sole name there are no restrictions on who you may leave it to.

However, if you are not the sole owner, you may not be able to leave the property to whomever you wish.

If the property is not solely owned, it may be held either as ‘joint tenants’ or as ‘tenants in common’. If it is held jointly, on death the property will automatically pass to the other joint owner, and will not form part of your estate.

Most properties are bought and held as joint tenants, but this can be or become inappropriate, and it becomes necessary to sever, or to split, the joint tenancy, and to hold the house as tenants in common.

It is possible to convert property held as joint tenants to tenants in common. This may be done in a number of ways, but the most common method is to serve a notice of severance.

The notice of severance must be served during your life to be effective. When the severance of the joint ownership has been completed the interests in the house are then held in separate, distinct, shares, which can, for example be left by Will.