Who owns what in times of change?

2 June 2017

Recently one of our clients went to purchase a property only to find out that the ownership of the home was not just in the name of the person selling it. In fact on several occasions lately we have seen a number of situations where ownership of property, insurances and even shares has been different to that expected by the person who thought they had sole ownership.

Often we see that these changes occur due to the asset originally being purchased by equal partners in a relationship, but an event happening (Usually separation or death) which leads to a need for change of ownership structure. Sometimes it may be an oversight in addressing legal matters at a time of stress, but in a surprising amount of cases it is a lack of understanding of who actually owns the home or insurance in question.

When a partner passes away often it is often the remaining spouse who is left to deal with tidying up matters, but for many the ownership of the deceased’s assets passes to an estate which is managed by an executor who helps manage any outstanding financial affairs. This executor may be a lawyer, an accountant or a trusted friend or relative, but whoever it is they should be easily contactable and somebody that you are comfortable discussing personal matters with. It is also imperative that you arrange a replacement should something happen to the executor of an estate that has an interest in your assets, to avoid delays should you need to make any changes to the products owned.

But it is not only the death of a partner that requires attention regarding remaining ownership, as a large number of people have to deal with change brought about by the end of a relationship. We have seen situations where due to individual situations of both parties, a family home has to remain in joint ownership despite the couple not being together, only for one of the parties to find out that they still have a liability when they go to purchase something else with a new partner. Fortunately, on a lot of occasions one half is able to purchase the others share of the home, and refinance joint borrowing into their own name to reflect the new sole ownership.

Your solicitor will be able to guide you on most of the requirements regarding the smooth settling of the division of property, but it is vitally important that you obtain independent advice regarding all of your financial affairs. Not only with the right structure of the borrowing for you to maintain your property without it crippling you financially, but also to cover your Insurance requirements which may have also previously been co-owned by your ex-partner. Many people often forget that when they took out their Insurance it was with a partner as a joint policy owner. The break-up of a long term relationship can be a very stressful event to go through, therefore working with an adviser who can approach a range of lenders and insurance providers without the emotional pressures of being directly involved will make sure you get the best option for all your home loan and insurance needs as you move forward.

Published In The Whakatane Beacon

This post was written by

John White - who has written 90 posts

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