Cohen Knights


We are pleased to offer a wide range of conveyancing services to our clients.

When a person buys or sells a property, ‘Conveyancing’ is the legal term for the transfer from one owner to another. The process involves a conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer who acts on behalf of the buyer/seller (which we will deal with and arrange) to ensure their clients receive the title deeds to the property and the land it sits on. There are normally two stages to this – the first being the exchange of contracts, the point at which the terms of the deal are fixed, and the second being the completion, where the legal title passes and the money is handed to the seller.

We can help you with: (Click on the headings to read more).

For initial guidance about Conveyancing call our advisors in Norfolk and Suffolk on 0333 1300 509 or contact us online and we will help you.

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Joint Property Ownership

It is important to factor in Joint Ownership and any existing Declarations of Trust when estate planning. It can often be prudent as part of any estate planning to sever the tenancy of a jointly owned property, especially if you want to pass your share via the terms of your will. However, these tools can also be useful when looking at estate planning (the process of preparing the distribution of your estate and assets whilst alive) in order to effectively structure your estate.

It is often advisable to investigate and clarify your current legal position in respect of any beneficial interests in your property. We can help with this.

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Changing from Joint Tenants to ‘Tenants in Common’

This is known as ‘Severing the Joint Tenancy’ and there are many reasons why this could be done.  It requires service of a written notice of ‘severance’. It can be done without the other owner’s cooperation or with their agreement.  It is recorded at the Land Registry, and the other owner will know it has been done but only ‘after the event’.

It can also be done by agreement of the owners, and a slightly different procedure is followed, but the same result is achieved.

The two most common reasons our clients look to change from joint tenants to tenants in common is when restructuring their Wills and/or for Tax reasons or Avoiding Care Fee.  It is important to note, that when holding a property as tenants in common, HMRC will assume the ‘beneficial interest’ is shared equally between the legal owners, unless there is a separate Declaration of Trust confirming otherwise. 

We have helped many clients in Norfolk and Suffolk sever their joint tenancy, especially whilst making new Wills in order to protect their share of the property. 

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Changing from ‘Tenants in Common’ to Joint Tenants

You need the agreement of the owners for this to happen. It will require a trust deed to be prepared setting out that the new terms of ownership are for all the joint owners to own the property as beneficial Joint Tenants. 

We can advise on the advantages and disadvantages of doing either of the above.

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Declaration of Trust

What does a declaration of trust do?

A Declaration of Trust confirms how the legal owners of a property hold the equity within a property and clearly defines what proportions they each own.  Traditionally most properties are purchased jointly where each own an equal share.  However, trends have now changed, and we now see different owners contribute different amounts to the purchase price and want to secure their interest.

The amount a person pays into the property is not normally registered on the title at the Land Registry. It can allow an owner who has contributed more to a property to lose out on a sale since their initial interest is not registered.  A Declaration of Trust can be registered at the Land Registry, alerting future purchasers that the registered owner is not alone and in fact owns the property on trust for others.

When is the true Legal owner not the equitable owner?

The difference between a legal owner and an equitable owner is very important to understand.  See example:

Understanding the difference between legal owner and equitable owner

Miss Young is purchasing her first home without the benefit of a mortgage. Her parents have provided her with the majority of the purchase monies via a loan, which is to be repaid.

The title deeds of the property at the Land Registry will recognise Miss Young as the legal owner, but her parent’s interest in the property is not recognised. Therefore, if Miss Young and her parents complete a Declaration of Trust confirming their respective ownership, and is registered at the Land Registry this protects the parents interests in the property without the parents being  named on the legal deed themselves. The Declaration of Trust states the percentage contribution made by each party and the percentage of proceeds of sale due to them individuals on any future sale.

Should Miss Young have any future problems, like a future marriage break down or insolvency, her parent’s loan is always protected.

Another common situation in modern day living is that most people do not to marry but instead live together as co-owners.  Again, a Declaration of Trust can be very useful in the following situation:

Mr Jones and Ms Young are buying a property together.  Each have children from former relationships and each wish to leave their own estates on their death to their own children.  Whilst buying the property they are providing different contributions to the purchase price. They wish their contributions to be reflected in a legal document. Mr Jones is to own 40% and Ms Young is to own 60%.

This is documented in a Declaration of Trust which records each person’s contribution and therefore the proportions of the property they own and is then registered at the Land Registry.  Upon a sale of the property they will each receive a respective share of the net proceeds.  Their interests are therefore protected.  

In the above example the co-owners would need to hold the property as tenants in common.

Next Steps to taken to making a declaration of trust

For initial advice and guidance about a Declaration of Trust call our advisors in Norfolk and Suffolk on 0333 1300 509 or contact us online and we will help you.

First Registration

If you purchased or acquired land or property many years ago, then the original title deeds may not be registered at the Land Registry.

This means that there is no secure and official record held at the Land Registry meaning that if your deeds were lost, destroyed or stolen, it can be difficult to prove legal ownership.  In recent years all land transactions such as a sales, purchases, gifts or other transfers have triggered first registration so they must be registered by law.  This is to register all properties in England and Wales.  

If your property is unregistered, then the only legal proof of your ownership is the original paper deeds.  If you would prefer to have your property registered at the Land Registry, please contact us and we can complete registration for you.

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Cohen Knights LLP offers expert legal advice in relation to Wills, Lasting Power of Attorneys, Probate, Trusts, Trust Management and other legal services.