Here’s something to think about when you are leaving a house in a Will.
You own the property on your own
This might seem straightforward; you can name the property and leave it to whom you want in your Will. There are dangers in naming specific properties.
You own a piece of a plot of land and you give it away in your Will. If you subsequently sell the land for development, the gift of the plot of land in your Will fails because you no longer own the land at your death.
If you gave your house to your nephew and the residue (all your savings) to your niece in your Will and you subsequently go into care, and the house is sold and turned into savings, your nephew gets nothing and your niece gets everything. Great care is needed when drafting Wills to make sure your basic intentions are carried out.
You own a property with someone else
If you are ‘joint tenants’ – it is like a joint bank account. If you died, the account becomes the sole property of the surviving owner. This is even irrespective of a Will. You could even leave your share of a property in your Will to Battersea Dogs Home, but it still goes to the surviving spouse.
If you are ‘tenants-in-common’, then you can leave your share of your property in your Will. If you gave your share of your property to, say, your children, you may need to consider protecting the rights of the other owner, particularly if it is your spouse and it would be prudent to take advice from a solicitor.
If you do not know if you share a property as ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants-in-common’ , then you again may need to obtain legal advice.