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Clare, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 34277
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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I was looking after my Mother's financial affairs and her house.

Customer Question

I was looking after my Mother's financial affairs and her house. She passed away sharing her estate between me and my younger brother. We are both executors of her will. My brother wished to be the main executor, I allowed this to prevent an argument. He agreed that I should buy him out of his share of the house. I spent £25k on the house to make it habitable. My brother changed his mind about selling to me because the house was now in good condition. I had no option but to allow a third party to buy the house for the £25k more than my brother agreed. My brother will only allow me £12.5k of my investment to be returned to me.
Am I permitted to get all my money back?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I am a solicitor in Scotland. Your investment of £25000 is a debt on the estate/your brother on the premise that what has actually happened is that you lent the estate/ your brother the money so that the house could be done up and sold. Whilst the original intention was that you would buy the house from the estate or your brother that has not happened. The legal basis for your action is that of unjust enrichment. In other words it would be unjust for your brother or the estate to benefit from your investment. You will not be able to run such an action yourself as it is specialised and complex. Keep looking for a solicitor specialising in court related work and with experience in actions based on unjust enrichment. The law society of Scotland website or telephone service may be able to help you with this. I hope that helps. Please leave a positive rating so that I am credited for my time.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply. I feel certain that I typed in English Law but I feel that your answer still holds. I presume that my brother's solicitor has case law to back up his claim. Am I likely to have any case law to back up my argument? Going to litigation in this situation sounds expensive. I am prepared to throw money to win my case but to lose would be very humiliating for me. However just capitulating to my brother would also be humiliating, but less so. Are my chances of success greater than 50%?
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.
I'm sorry that your question was posted to Scots law. English law on this is likely to be different as unjust enrichment is a specific Scottish legal concept. I will transfer you to the right experts. Please be patient and do not respond to this message or the question will come back to me instead of to my English colleagues.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
HiThank you for your question.My name is ***** ***** I am a solicitor in England.For clarity - can you prove the amount you spent on the house?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I can indeed since my brother retrospectively asked for the receipts. Unfortunately a lot of the work was done by workmen in their spare time 'off the book'. I did not worry at the time since they worked hard, did a good job and at a low price. My brother is contesting many of the receipts with comments such as 'This was bought at Ascot (where I live) so was not used for the Luton house but for my own use' or 'There are more carpet tiles than would fit on the floor' which is certainly the case. I bought spares in case a tenant spilt anything on one of them.
I came across a promisory estoppel case in which a landlord promised the tenant that he would renew his tenancy agreement if he did the house up. The tenant decorated the property but the landlord decided to rent it out to someone else at a higher rental. In the court, the landlord lost.My problem is that I thought that I was going to own the house so I threw time and money at it. My brother realised that a contract to buy a property is not enforceable in English law. When I submitted my changes to Zoopla my brother decided to sit tight and ignore my letters (for nine months) knowing that I was looking after his interests quite nicely. After nine months I pulled out of the sale knowing that I had been duped. Of course I should not have trusted him, and I cannot even prove that he had planned to take advantage of my naivety. Have I lost my money and all that effort? Thanks, John.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
There are two possible ways forward.The first is that of you can prove what you spent then you can sue the estate for the monies using the Money Claim online serviceThe second is that you use the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act - TOLATA and make a claim based on the fact that you had an interest in the proceeds of sale by virtue of the work that you did on the property which was done in the expectation of sharing in the benefitsI hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further detailsClare