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HOW WOULD THE PRINCIPLE OF SURVIVORSHIP AFFECT ME IF I HAVE A JOINT FOREIGN BANK ACCOUNT OR OWN A PROPERTY OVERSEAS JOINTLY?

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Care should be taken when preparing a Will for a South African who jointly owns a foreign bank account or investment account. If one joint owner passes away, the deceased’s share might not pass through their Estate and may pass automatically to the surviving joint owner. This is known as the Principle of Survivorship. A caveat though, the Principle of Survivorship operates in the UK, Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, and many other countries, but not in all of them. An example of the principle is that a husband who jointly has a bank account with his brother in the Isle of Man, should not try and make a gift in his Will of his share in the bank account to his wife or any other person than his brother.

In circumstances where two or more people own a property jointly, the asset is held 100 per cent in all names and this is called joint tenancy. When one of the owners passes away, the percentage holding of the other owner/owners increases. This differs from owning assets in tenancy in common, which has no right of survivorship and may be dealt with in terms of the Testator’s Last Will and Testament.