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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Conveyancers “just not good enough”


Conveyancers, many of them solicitors, are just not doing their jobs well enough it seems to me. I have lost count of the amount of times clients tell me that when they bought their house there was no discussion at all about how to own it and in what shares.

If married, it dosn't matter much normally because the Courts usually ignore whose name the house is in especially after a few years marriage, when sorting out a divorce settlement.

But for unmarried couples it can be very serious indeed. Take an example where, say, he puts in £1,000 and she £40,000 and pays the mortgage and they put it into joint names. She has 2 children. She dies in a car crash. Who gets the house? He does. And probably with no mortgage if she had a life policy attached to it.

This is the gist of ownership of houses--make sure your conveyancer talks you through which is right for you. (Ignore the use of the word "tenant", it is correct but doesn't mean you are renting)

Beneficial Joint Tenants
This is where the joint owners are all equally entitled to the property. When one of the owners dies, that property passes automatically to the surviving owner. If, therefore, there are two joint owners and one of them dies, the other becomes entitled to all the property.

Beneficial Tenants in Common
The property is held by the joint owners in set out proportions, which may or may not be 50/50. If one of the joint owners dies, that person's share does NOT go automatically to the other but goes according to that person's Will or under the rules of intestacy.

Andrew Woolley
Divorce Solicitor


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Not just it is worth ensuring you get the right advice of your conveyancer but also of your family lawyer.  I have just done a living together agreement for a couple who have just moved in together and whilst the property is in the chaps sole name and he has sole obligation of the mortgage, the lady has contributed a large lump sum. The chap is agreeable that she has a beneficial interest so it is essential this is protected by way of Declaration of Trust, essential this is done whilst they are still in agreement. Imagine the unravelling that would have to be done in say 10 years time if they separated, not to mention the legal costs invovled in a civil application.  Good job they took advice from the outset!...

By Sue Harwood on Tuesday July 7, 2009

You pay a conveyancer to advise you not just to fill in some forms.  If they don’t advise you about your options and what is the best solution, what are you paying them for?  If they don’t advise you ASK!  It can mean the difference between a couple of letters if you do separate and £15,000 to £20,0000 in legal fees arguing over equity or worse negative equity.  And if you die and this is not sorted you may end up leaving the problem to yourloved ones behind to sort out what you intended.  Ask the conveyancer and save the heartache, spend a few quid now and save thousands later….

By Karen Agnew-Griffith on Tuesday July 7, 2009

Yes, A friend asked me to be his executor and I discovered that he’d taken out his mortgage years earlier with a girlfriend as ‘Beneficial Joint Tenants’. She’d lived there less than a year and he died believing his property would go to a widow and child. She was jobless, living on benefit. I tracked down the former girlfriend explaining the situation but she was going to have her entitllement and I advised the wife to seek advice on contesting it. It was I who’d paid the mortgage over the last few months, so that he wouldn’t lose it.

She got half the value of a rather run down flat, which she spent within months. As she’d not wanted to live there, I’d been trying to prepare it for letting which would now have been giving her a reasonable income.  ...

By Jeff Mowatt on Tuesday July 7, 2009

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