Should new property be jointly owned?

Bryan and his wife plan to buy a better home using her inheritance money. Bryan asks Noel Whittaker whether this new property should be held in joint names or in his wife’s name only.

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Q. Bryan
I am 61 and my wife is 55. We are both still working but wish to retire in a year. My wife has inherited some money and we were thinking of upgrading to a better house, funded by the sale of our current house, plus some of the inheritance. Should we put the new house in my wife’s name only or stick with joint names? I have quite a bit of defined benefit super but my wife has very little. We have no investment property or shares.

A. I see no reason why the house should not be in joint names, unless you have some specific reason such as asset protection for keeping somebody’s name off the title deed. Just keep in mind that property in joint names passes automatically to the survivor on the death of one of the owners, but if the property is bought as tenants-in-common, the share of each individual can be bequeathed in terms of their will. Just make sure you have adequate cash reserves to see you through retirement.

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Noel Whittaker is the author of Making Money Made Simple and numerous other books on personal finance. His advice is general in nature, and readers should seek their own professional advice before making any financial decisions. 

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