Making a Will is not about wealth it is about making sure that what you want to happen to your estate does happen. It gives you the opportunity to specify such things as who will administer your estate, who will care for your children and who will receive specific items of your property.
When a house is owned by two or more people as tenants in common each of them has a separate interest he can leave in his will.
This arrangement is useful where there are tax considerations or where there has been a prior marriage. For example, it may be desired to protect the children from a prior marriage against the risk of being disinherited by the second spouse. This will be covered in more detail.
It is possible to change the ownership of a house from a joint tenancy to a tenancy in common. This involves drawing up a special form of notice, serving it on the other co-owner and then registering a restriction at the Land Registry.
If you are in a situation where a severance is necessary it is highly likely your affairs are too complicated to attempt your own will.
It is essential to note that unless you own your property as tenants in common neither you nor your co-owner can leave your share to anybody else. The will cannot override the survivorship that occurs on death. Any purported gift of the property will be void.
This can lead to great disappointment on the part of the named recipient and may also cause hardship.
If you do not know how you hold the property it is very likely that you own as joint tenants. In the absence of specific instructions to the contrary most property lawyers would register a married couple as joint tenants. You can confirm this by obtaining office copies of your title from the Land Registry.
If you own as tenants in common there will be a restriction recorded to the effect that the survivor cannot give a valid receipt for capital monies without an order of the registrar or of the court. This will appear after your names on the proprietorship register. If no such words appear then you hold as joint tenants.
Your title number will appear on your title document. If you do not have this you can do a search of the Index Map at the Land Registry to obtain it. The Index Map Search is free but there is a charge for the office copies.
The charges are increased periodically. To find your nearest Land Registry, consult the telephone directory or go to their website.