I visited Dubai, the name nakheel was big on the flag poles and
billboards. They are a property development business, building
houses, malls, hotels and palm islandsin fact, the word
nakheel is Arabic for palms.
In the real estate business, there are various lucrative sub-sectors,
such as valuators, property management, marketing, brokerage firms.
On the other side of the coin are the consumers, who want to buy
property to invest.
This is where understanding the concept of title becomes
critical. Essentially, your title is your evidence of ownership.
This is commonly found in a document called a deed. The deed bestows
The deed can be a source of many headaches for those appointed
to execute wills and for owners wishing to sell property.
When you purchase a property, the transaction is usually completed
in a lawyers office. The purchaser will have the opportunity
to instruct the lawyer about how to word the deed to bestow ownership.
The deed can reflect the ownership interests in many ways.
It is common practice to purchase property jointly with another
person such as a spouse, child or business partner. This is called
The two common survivorship clauses are:
n tenancy in common; and
n with right of survivorship.
The succession of property to heirs, when the property is owned
in either of the ways listed above, is not controlled by the provisions
of a valid will. The deed allows the property to pass outside
of the will, and is a document superior to the will in terms of
For example, if a will seeks to pass property to an individual,
such as a child, when the deed for such a property is titled as
tenancy in common with a named individual who is still
alive, then the provision in the will cannot be adhered to, and
is void, but that does not void the will.
With respect to the interest referred to as tenancy in common,
there may be two, or more people named as common tenants. Each
person so named has an absolute right to a portion of the property,
and any party can divestsell or will his portion to another
With respect to joint tenancies with right of survivorship, the
death of one tenant allows the property to pass in fee simple
absolute (see later) to the survivor. Or, during the lifetime
of both joint tenants, can only be sold with the consent of all
If the deed does not name a tenant in common or a survivorship,
only then does the property pass into the estate of the deceased,
and only then can the provision in the will be honoured.
Complete interest in property refers to total ownership by one
person or entity. The language in the deed looks like this: Estate
in fee simple absolute, or fee simple estate. This simply means
that the ownership is infinite in time, and the owner has the
right to give it during his lifetime as a gift, or sell it, or
If several heirs are named in the will for any one property, and
there is no direction in the will as to whether the heirs should
be tenants in common or joint tenants with right of survivorship,
then the executor has the right to decide how to title the new
Reference should then be made to the last conversations with the
deceased, for guidance on how to proceed. Fiduciary responsibility
is never blowing in the wind!