There are two types of ownership of land. The first type of ownership is ‘legal ownership’ meaning ownership recognised by law because a person’s name is on the title. The second type is ‘beneficial ownership’ meaning ownership of the equity which can differ from legal ownership. Legal ownership does not necessarily mean that that person is entitled to the proceeds of the sale of the land and could in fact be holding the property on trust for the beneficiaries.
Consequently, couples who jointly own property registered at the land registry where their shares have not been defined can sometimes have a different understanding as to who owns what. Similarly, just because a property is registered in only one person’s name and not the other, it doesn’t mean that the other party to the relationship does not own a share of that property.