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What Happens to a Jointly Owned Property if One Owner Dies?

Losing a loved one is never easy, and the last thing you want to worry about is what happens to a jointly-owned property. But it’s a question that needs answering, especially when property laws can be complex. Let’s break it down.

Types of joint ownership

First off, let’s understand the two main types of joint ownership in the UK: joint tenants and tenants in common. The type of ownership you have will impact what happens to the property when one owner passes away.

Joint tenants

If you own a property as joint tenants, the surviving owner automatically inherits the deceased’s share. This is known as the ‘Right of Survivorship.’ It’s straightforward and doesn’t require any legal hoops.

Tenants in common

On the other hand, if you’re tenants in common, each owner has a distinct share in the property, which doesn’t automatically go to the surviving owner. Instead, the deceased’s share will be distributed according to their will or the rules of intestacy if there’s no will.

What role do wills and probate play?

Having a will can make the process that much more fluid when it comes to sorting out a jointly owned property after one person passes away. A will spells out exactly how the deceased’s share should be divided up, cutting through the legal fog. 

But don’t think you’re home-free just yet, as you might still have to go through probate. This legal process is often required to officially transfer the deceased’s share, particularly if the estate has multiple assets or debts. So, while a will streamlines things, probate could still be on the cards and add another layer to an already complex situation.

Are there any tax implications?

Taxes are an unavoidable reality that even follows us to the grave. When a co-owner of a property passes away, the taxman is never far behind. Inheritance tax could be levied on the deceased’s share of the property, and this is something you can’t afford to overlook. 

The amount due hinges on the property’s value and any available exemptions or reliefs, such as the spouse or civil partner exemption. If the property’s value pushes the deceased’s estate over the inheritance tax threshold — currently set at £325,000 — you could be looking at a 40% tax on the amount above that limit. 

But there’s more. If the property isn’t sold or transferred within two years, you might also face additional tax implications. So, while dealing with the emotional toll, keep a keen eye on the tax implications to avoid any nasty surprises.

Is it easier to sell the property?

Deciding to sell a property after the loss of a co-owner is a complex decision, laden with both financial and emotional considerations. If, for example, the property isn’t your primary residence, then you’ll likely need to pay capital gains tax if its value has increased. Capital gains tax is the profit made from a sale. For instance, if you bought the property for £300,000 and sold it for £400,000, you’ll be responsible for capital gains tax on £100,000. 

There’s also the emotional aspect of selling a home you once shared with a loved one. This can be emotionally draining and make it easier or harder to sell the home. Perhaps it’s hard to let go due to the memories, or maybe you’d prefer a fresh start. 

Should I sell a jointly-owned property if one owner dies?

The decision whether to sell comes down to you and what you’d like to do with the property. Selling a home previously owned along with a loved one can be a difficult decision, and if you do decide to sell, you might wish for a sale to go through as quickly as possible. 

This is where Property Rescue can step in to ease the burden. Specialising in quick, hassle-free sales, we offer a straightforward solution that eliminates the stress of waiting for the right buyer. We’ll purchase the property directly from you, allowing you to bypass the traditional market and its uncertainties. This is particularly beneficial in emotionally charged situations, where a quick sale can help close a chapter and aid in the healing process. 

It’s never easy to discuss topics that involve death, especially when it centres around what to do with an asset like a property. Only you will know what to do in such a situation, but solutions like Property Rescue can help should you decide to sell your home and want a quick sale in the process. Get a free, no-obligation quote today, regardless of your reason for selling, and see how much we can buy your home for. People love selling their homes to us because we can buy properties in as little as just 48 hours, but we always work according to whatever timescale is most comfortable for you.




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