What is the difference between assets held jointly or as tenants-in-common?

Assets jointly held known as ‘joint assets’ do not form part of your estate; they pass by survivorship to the surviving person. Assets held as ‘tenants-in-common’ are only partly owned and can be bequeathed (given) to a nominated beneficiary under your Will.

For example, if a husband and wife own a home as ‘joint tenants’, when one spouse passes away the house would automatically go to the remaining spouse under the survivorship rule.  However, if siblings own a block of land as ‘tenants-in-common’ they can leave their share to whomever they like – it would not automatically pass to each other.

There are two ways assets can be passed on:

  • one is via survivorship (jointly owned assets);
  • the other is through full estate administration. This is where the assets are fully owned by the deceased and passed on in accordance with their wishes.

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