Can you sever joint tenancy without the other partner knowing?

What are different types of joint tenancy?

There are two most common types of joint tenancy:  joint tenancy and tenants-in-common. The main differences between the two are in the way the property is owned and the rules concerning the death of one of the tenants.

Joint tenancy is a type of ownership where whole property is owned together. In the event of death, the interest of the deceased owner automatically passes to the surviving owner. This is also called the right of survivorship.

Tenancy in common allows two or more people to have ownership interests in a property. Each owner has the right to leave his share of the property to any beneficiary upon the owner’s death. If you are tenants-in-common, your share of the property does not pass to the other surviving joint owner in the event of your death.  Rather, it will pass in accordance with the terms of your will.

Severing the tenancy

Severing a joint tenancy does not change who owns the property but how it is owned. Joint tenancy can be severed and this can be done with or without the agreement of the other joint owner. Once joint tenancy has been severed, the two partners own the property as tenants-in-common.

Once the tenancy is severed and the owners become ‘tenants-in-common’, each owner owns a distinct 50% in the property. This arrangement has certain legal consequences.

Severing joint tenancy is a strategy sometimes used in estate planning. For example, if you want your interest in co-owner property to pass to a different person, then it is important to ensure that your interest is held as tenants-in-common.

We can provide you with advice and can assist you with your estate planning and property ownership questions.

If you would like assistance, please contact Wollerman Shacklock Lawyers on 9707 1155 or


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