Declaration of trust & tenants in common

Written by gideon sarantinos | 13/05/2017
Declaration of trust & tenants in common
Various ownership options are available when multiple parties purchase a property. (property image by Christopher Hall from

Multiple owners can purchase a property either as (beneficial) joint tenants or tenants (tenancy) in common. The former means that the owners purchase as a single unit. The latter means that ownership can be apportioned.

Declaration Of Trust

When property ownership is defined as tenants in common, a legal document called a deed, or a declaration of trust must be drawn up stating the respective undivided, discrete portion of each owner. It is analogous to owning shares in a company.

Legal Implications

The key legal differences with property ownership types pertain to the right of survivorship upon an owner's death. In the case of joint tenants, an owner's property portion passes onto the remaining owner(s) upon death. This is typical for a married couple. Conversely, tenants in common nominate who will inherit their portion of the property upon death independently of the other owners.

Transferring Ownership Type

Since a declaration of trust (or trust agreement) is a generic legal document, it can be used to transfer ownership to beneficial joint tenants or tenants in common. A simple notice must be served to each owner, signed, witnessed and lodged with the relevant government authorities.

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