Unmarried couples who own property together are being urged to plan for what would happen to their share should they die.

Mary McAneny, a solicitor within the Private Client department at Shropshire law firm mfg Solicitors, said it was vital for people to understand exactly what stake they hold in a property with their partner if they are living as “tenants in common” – and how to protect themselves from a messy situation with a Will.

Holding a property as joint tenants means that two or more people own it equally, but if one dies, their share falls to the surviving proprietor through right of survivorship. However, those who own property as tenants in common can also own unequal shares and can specify in a Will who should receive their share should the worst happen.

Miss McAneny said: “There must be an increased awareness that if you own a property with your partner as tenants in common and decide to then leave your share of that property when you die, to someone else such as a sibling or child, your partner may be forced to sell the property for the sibling or child to receive their inheritance, unless you make provisions to protect your partner in a Will.  

“Also, if you are leaving your share of a property into a Trust which is set out in your Will, it is important you hold that property as tenants in common.”

Miss McAneny added that people who owned property solely, but had a partner living with them without being married, should also consider how they could protect them for the future as they have no legal rights of inheritance.

She added: “If you want to protect a partner and see them continuing to live in or inherit the property if you die, it is imperative a Will is put in place.

“If you are unmarried, your partner does not automatically inherit from your Estate under the Intestacy Rules, which stipulate who should inherit an Estate if there is no Will in place. There are many different situations people find themselves in when it comes to their living situation and owning property, which is usually the main asset in an Estate.

“More than anything, it is important everyone understands how they hold their property and how to protect this asset for their loved ones, by taking advice from a solicitor and putting a Will in place.”

For any further advice on tenants in common, readers can contact Mary via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..