20th SEPTEMBER 2021
If you owned joint assets – such as property or a bank account – with a close friend or relative who has passed away, you might be wondering how to transfer those assets into your sole ownership and whether you need a grant of probate to do so. This article will explain everything you need to know about joint assets and probate.
Joint bank accounts
Generally, joint bank accounts can be easily transferred to the surviving co-owner without a grant of probate under the Right of Survivorship. In most cases, the bank will require a valid death certificate to formally transfer the asset, but it is unlikely that a grant of probate will be required.
Jointly owned property
Whether probate is required for jointly owned property depends on whether the property is owned as joint tenants or as tenants in common. ‘Joint tenants’ means that the property is owned equally by two people, with neither holding an identifiable share. If one co-owner passes away, the property automatically passes to the surviving co-owner under the Right of Survivorship. Probate is not required to transfer property when the Right of Survivorship is in effect.
If property is owned as ‘tenants in common’, it means that each party owns a specific percentage of the property. The Right of Survivorship does not apply to property owned as tenants in common. Instead, the share of the property owned by the deceased must be dealt with by the executor or administrator of the estate in accordance with the Will or the Rules of Intestacy. The deceased may have written that their share should be transferred to the living tenant or to someone else. Therefore, probate will be required to deal with property owned as tenants in common.