Are there any pitfalls to buying a property for our parents?

20 December 2016

Q

My brother and I are helping our parents purchase a property closer to where we both live. We will all be named as owners of the property as tenants in common.

Our parents have mirror wills.

However, as they would now be tenants-in-common and not beneficial joint tenants, will their respective shares of the house still pass to each other outside inheritance tax when one dies? Are there any other potential issues we should be thinking about?

From
CC/Kingston

A

If the property is owned as tenants-incommon, then when one of the owners dies, their share of the property is passed on as stipulated in their will. If your parents have mirror wills, then when one of them dies, their share of the property will pass to the other.

Owning the property as tenants-in-common doesn’t alter that married couples, or registered civil partners, are able to pass assets to each other either during their lifetime or when they
die without any inheritance tax liability, no matter how much they pass on.

It is difficult to say whether this is the best way of dealing with joint ownership. All solutions have potential pitfalls, depending on what happens in the future.

Having tenants-incommon can be beneficial from a tax-planning perspective.

 

However, there can be problems if you have differing views about the property in the future, such as when it should be sold, who can live in it and whether they should pay any rent.

Other family disputes could cause problems, such as if you or your brother got divorced and the ex-spouse wanted to claim their share of the property.

 

What is a mirror will?

Mirror wills are designed for couples who want to leave everything to each other when they die. The wills are identical except that their names are reversed with each being the beneficiary on the others will. Mirror wills are cheaper to have drawn up than two separate wills, as it is simpler and quicker work for a solicitor.

Individual wills typically cost £100 to £200, while a pair of mirror wills costs around £150 to £300.