Joint ownership of property- till death do you part?

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Sometimes due to unavailability of funds and at other times due to size of a plot, more than one person choose to pool funds together to buy property.

Many times, when they are siblings or a married couple, the purchase is made without a statement about what share each of them has in the purchase or in the equity residing in the property. They progress things by building together or even as many separate units as their needs require but do not separate the ownership on the deed, for reasons best known to themselves……..then disaster happens.

One of them dies and the personal representatives want to take over their share of such property.

Hang on! Representatives you can’t. There is nothing to inherit because the equity resides in the surviving owner. As long as the ownership is said to be joint and despite that your relative’s name is on the title deeds, he cedes ownership to his co-owner the day he dies. A lot of us either due to ignorance or laziness do not care what is written in the contracts that we sign.

[Tweet “A joint ownership of property belongs to the surviving owner whose name is on the title documents. Joint ownership is not severable under the law. …..There is hope while alive though”]. Ownership in common is severable. The title document or contract must state in what portions each person owns the property, including the units built on is so that at the death of one of them, his portion inures to his estate.

Are you in the process of divorcing your husband who you have bought property with jointly? Please check what kind of holding you have today. A number of us have title documents like that, even Certificates of Occupancy. So why don’t you check your deed today to ensure that you have ownership-in-common and not joint ownership.

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Sisi Lawyer seeks to present legal aspects of relationships, whether business or family, in an easy to understand format.

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