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Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34105
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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My sister and her husband have moved into the family home to

Resolved Question:

My sister and her husband have moved into the family home to look after my mother, having sold their house. My mother owns the house outright. My sister and husband do not pay rent. Will they have a legal right to own the house when my mother dies? At present it is left in her will for the house to be split three ways to her 3 children. My sister is 60 years old.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
Do you know if your mother has promised your sister anything in return for your sister living with and caring for her?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

No, my mother hasn't promised my sister anything in return specifically for her care. My mother continues to pay the household bills - which includes substantial building works, (a new kitchen and decoration etc), so the house is more comfortable for my sister and her husband, and my sister pays some of the food bills.

My mother is elderly and frail, but compose mentis and physically fit.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
HI
What provisions will be made for your sister's housing after your mother dies?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My sister's plan is to buy the house from me and my brother after my Mother's demise, and she receives one third of the inheritance. I think she won't be able to buy us out as she won't have enough money. This will leave us with a house being lived in and my brother and I reluctant to make our sister and her husband homeless.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
How much is the property worth?
Have you discussed this with your mother?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The house is worth about £900,000.

My mother wants us three to have equal shares, and trusts that my sister will be able to buy me and my brother out: but yesterday she told my sister she hoped to make "living wish" made that my sister and her husband would never have to leave the house.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Do you know how much they sold their property for?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes, £425.000.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
have you pointed out to your mother that they simply will not have enough money to buy you and your other sibling out?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes, but there is also money in stock and shares, which of course one can't easily evaluate at this stage. So there will be more money around for us all, other than just the house, after my mother's death.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
At present would there be enough money?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Probably just enough.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
The fact that they have moved in worth your mother would not in itself give your sister any greater rights to the house - but the fact that your mother has expressed the wish that your sister is allowed to remain in the property after her death could be a major issue - especially if over the years the savings have been eroded - possibly to fund Nursing Home fees.
The fact that such a wish had been expressed could be sufficient to mean that your sister could live there until her death and you and your other sibling would have to wait for your share
One way that that could be solved would be through an Equity release scheme allowing your sister to raise the money from the house itself.
The only realistic way of addressing this issue is to have a discussion as a family so that you are all clear what is intended
Please ask if you need further details
Clare
Clare and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

But my understanding is that a living wish is only that - a wish, and it is not legally binding or obligatory in any way..... My question was is there any legal implication to her living in the house - could her age make any difference re rights to stay in a property/could she have "squatters rights" ? Clearly I'd appreciate a family discussion but they are so cagey about having one I wonder if they know about some sort of rights to a property once you're in that I am unaware of.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
There are no such thing as "squatters rights" in this situation.
Your sister's age is only relevant in so far as it means that the Local Authority cannot force the immediate sale of your mother's property if she has to go into a nursing home and runs out of funds.
However the fact that your mother has verbally expressed the wish that your sister lives there means that your sister can make a claim against the estate when the time comes and argue that she relied on that promise to her detriment - and in the circumstances you describe she is likely to be successful
Clare

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