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Harris
Harris, Law Specialist
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2291
Experience:  Family Law - Specialist in Divorce, Financial Relief and Children Matters
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My sister's husband left without trace over 40 years ago

Resolved Question:

Good afternoon, My sister's husband left without trace over 40 years ago with no contact ever since. My sister paid all the mortgage on the bungalow, bills everything. We have now discovered that he is in aged accommodation, and that the deeds are still held in his name with the solicitors from long ago. Is there a document that we can take to try and ask him to sign that at least puts my sister onto the deeds. I dont know how he will react when we confront him. Also my sister does not have a lot of financial resources to pursue this through the legal channels. She is now worried that now that both of them are in their 80's she will not be allowed to bequeath her half of the property.
Kind Regards *****
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Harris replied 9 months ago.

Hi, thank you for your question. Just a bit more information required to fully assist you:

-How long have they been married?

-Do they have any children, if so how old are they?

-Is she still living in the home and was it the former marital home?

-Does he have a will in place?

-What is the value of the home, and how much mortgage outstanding?

-What other assets do they both have, together with values?

-What is their respective incomes?

Expert:  Harris replied 9 months ago.

Hi, thank you for your question. Just a bit more information required to fully assist you:

-Are they in England or Wales?

-How long have they been married?

-Do they have any children, if so how old are they?

-Is she still living in the home and was it the former marital home?

-Does he have a will in place?

-What is the value of the home, and how much mortgage outstanding?

-What other assets do they both have, together with values?

-What is their respective incomes?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Hi Harris,
1. England. 2.Over 40 years (approx, they never divorced) 3.No Children 4.Still living in Marital Home
5.Dont know if he has a will or not, we have never seen him or had any information since he left.
6. Value of Home, approx £135,000 7. No mortgage, my sister continued to pay it when he left.
8. They have no assets together. The property is in his sole name.
9. By the sounds of it he is now 82, so probably only a pension.
10. My sister earns a little bit doing a small cleaning job (approximately £100.00) She has very little pension from the state as she only paid a married womans stamp, which on reflection was a bad move, as now the amount she receives is very minimal.
Expert:  Harris replied 9 months ago.

Thank you for confirming. Firstly, as they are married she has matrimonial home rights, which mean she has a right to live in the property until divorce.

If he were to pass away and he does not have a will, she will inherit the property and any other assets that he has solely as there are no children.

If he does have a will and he has not provided for her in the will, then she can make an application to court for reasonable provision from his estate due to her needs and residing in the property which was the matrimonial home.

Given that her name is ***** ***** the property, she can register her matrimonial home rights on the title of the property using Land Registry form HR1 - her husband will be notified of this registration. Her name will appear on the title of the property to show she has an interest in the property.

If she were to decide to proceed with a divorce, then this property and all their other assets (whether held jointly or solely) will form part of consideration to settle their finances.

I hope this assists you. If you found this information helpful please provide a positive rating using the stars at the top of this page. I will not be credited for answering your question without a positive rating. Thank you

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Hi Harris,k
There is just one thing that you have not answered, and that is if she is entitled to bequeath her half of the property if she were to die ? seeing as she is not divorced.
Expert:  Harris replied 9 months ago.

Thank you - if she were to pass away, then no she cannot bequeath the property, as her name will not be legally on the title. This can only be done if the husband were to voluntarily agree to adding her as a joint owner, or if a court were to add her name to the title. The matrimonial home rights are a beneficial interest in the property and not a legal interest.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Thank you Harris,What form do I need to present to her husband in order for her to be put on the title deeds ?
Expert:  Harris replied 9 months ago.

He will need to apply for transfer of ownership (thereby changing from sole to joint owners) - the guide for this is here: https://www.gov.uk/registering-land-or-property-with-land-registry/transfer-ownership-of-your-property

Given the legal implications of this, if he agrees it is best to have a conveyancer deal with it to ensure that it is all correct - this will likely cost a few hundred pounds.

She should also be aware that if he agrees to the change, then there are two ways they can be joint owners - as joint tenants and as tenants in common. Joint tenants both own the whole of the property and cannot bequeath the property - it automatically passes to the other upon death. Whereas, tenants in common own their own share - either 50-50 or any other agreed proportion and are free to bequeath their share.

Harris, Law Specialist
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2291
Experience: Family Law - Specialist in Divorce, Financial Relief and Children Matters
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