Newspaper reports have confirmed that Zayn Malik and Perrie Edwards have called off their engagement despite the pair purchasing a £3m property together only weeks ago. So, how will the property be split considering the pair are not yet married?
In England and Wales property can be held in two different ways; either as joint tenants or as tenants in common. If property is purchased as joint tenants then the parties own the property jointly and the right of survivorship will apply. This means that should one party die, their share will automatically pass to the surviving party. Any provision contained in either of the parties’ Wills is irrelevant. This is often applicable with married couples and the parties will be seen as owning an equal interest in the property.
However, as Zayn and Perrie are not married and are only cohabiting, they may have purchased the property as tenants in common in the event they didn’t want the other to automatically inherit the entire property when one died. If property is purchased as tenants in common, each party is seen as owning a separate percentage share, i.e. 50:50 or 40:60 etc, which should be expressed and protected by way of a Declaration of Trust. Upon death that share will pass according to the terms of the deceased party’s Will or according to the rules of intestacy if there is no Will. If one party has contributed more than the other when purchasing the property, that amount will only be protected if expressed in a Declaration of Trust. In absence of a Declaration of Trust, the parties will be viewed as each owning an equal share regardless of whether a party contributed a larger sum at the outset.
Cohabiting couples are treated no different to friends purchasing a property (unless there are any children involved) and a Declaration of Trust is advisable to any couple purchasing property who are not married, especially where one party is contributing more to the purchase price that the other. Often this is overlooked or the parties may receive no advice from the solicitors dealing with the conveyancing.
The Family department at Breeze and Wyles Ltd we are able to offer expert advice on Declarations of Trusts when purchasing property as well as providing advice when an unmarried couple’s relationship ends.
Lisa Honey is a trainee solicitor with Breeze and Wyles Ltd and has experience in divorce and finances as well as children matters. Lisa is due to qualify with the firm in October 2015.