The ‘Great Australian Dream’ is well and truly alive with nearly 70 percent of Aussies living in a home they own outright or have mortgaged. With the family home being the largest asset that most of us will ever own, it is important to understand that the way this asset is registered can have implications for what forms part of your estate when you die.
“But it is my house, I paid the mortgage?”
Indeed. If the house is registered in only your name, you can put it in the Will as such. However, if you own the house with another person (usually your spouse but it could be any other person relative or not), there are two ways that you can legally own it.
- Jointly – this is the most common way of owning property and you would be a “joint proprietor” with the other person;
- Tenants in Common – This doesn’t mean that you are tenants; it means that you each own a certain percentage of the property (usually 50%) and you can deal with your percentage however you want to.
If you own your home as a joint proprietor, then, when you die, the home automatically passes to your other joint proprietor. It makes no difference whether you have a Will or not. However, if you own your home as tenants in common, you can leave your percentage of your house to whomever you want in your Will.
Accordingly if you own your home as Joint Tenants that is as a joint proprietor, but would like to leave your share of the property in your will, you will need to have the title changed – this is usually not very expensive. Get in touch with the Titles Office in your State.