Ownership of Land in Queensland
How do you hold your property?
Ownership of land in Queensland can be held by purchasers either as joint tenants or tenants in common. With joint tenants the parties do not own a specific share in the land but own the property as a whole.
In the event of the death of any joint tenant, the property is automatically transferred to the surviving registered owners. This is the case regardless of any instructions to the contrary in a Will or other document.
The alternative method of ownership is tenants in common whereby each party owns a specific share in the land, e.g. 1/2, 1/4 etc. That share may be disposed of in a Will, by a deed or contract.
Severing a Joint Tenancy
In certain circumstances, a joint tenant may wish to sever the joint tenancy that their property is held in order to deal with their specific share in the land. This is often the case where the property may be held by a married couple who are separating (and therefore, do not wish their former spouse to receive their share in the property upon their death) or otherwise for estate planning purposes (where one joint tenant may wish to give their share in the property to an individual other than the remaining joint tenant/s).
Severing a joint tenancy can either be done by agreement between all registered owners of the land, or otherwise by a single joint tenant unilaterally severing their specific share in the land from all other registered owners.
The severance of a joint tenancy is exempt from the payment of stamp duty, but may have other taxation consequences. As such, you should seek both legal and accounting advice before taking steps to sever any joint tenancy.