If you and your other half, whether married or cohabiting, jointly own your home or other property, you are said to be holding it on a trust of land.

Under the law in England and Wales, there are two distinct and separate ways of owning houses and land, and how you own your property could be an important factor in the event of your death.

You will either be joint tenants or tenants in common.  In this context, the term ‘tenants’ has nothing to do with landlords and tenants – it is a term relating to ownership.


  • If you are joint tenants, there are no ‘shares’ in the property.  You don’t own half each, you both own the whole property.  If your partner dies, he or she cannot gift their ‘share’ of the property under the terms of their Will, and it will not form part of their estate to be distributed under their intestacy.  You will become the sole owner of the whole property by what is known as the right of survivorship.


  • If you are tenants in common, you will each own a share of your home.  Most usually this is a half share, but it may be adjusted if one of you has put more money into the property.

If you and your partner are cohabiting and he or she dies without a Will, your partner’s share of your home will pass under the intestacy rules to his or her closest family.

As the surviving legal owner, whose name is on the title register at the Land Registry, you will be ‘holding’ your home on trust for yourself and your late partner’s beneficiaries.

This may cause an uncomfortable situation for you.  Perhaps  you don’t get on well with your partner’s children or other family.

In any event, if you and your partner are not sure how you own your home, or the effect this would have on the survivor if one of you died,  it’s something that’s best dealt with sooner rather than later. 

Please get in touch and we can help you sort this out before it becomes a problem.

T: 07860 772274

E: christine@winterbornelegal.co.uk