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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 12180
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor. Partner in own firm.
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Property query

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At the time 14 years ago my mother had cancer and changed her will to ensure that the man I was divorcing , who had been an abuser, would not get any more of my money. In order to do this she put the family home into my brother and sisters names and they both received 15k. I was in the will to live in the property and this would be reviewed in 10 years time. It is now 14 years since that date and I have discussed with my brother what we should do to settle this. He told me that after the 10 year period I no longer had any entitlement to live in the house and it was solely under my brother and sisters names. I have lived in the property with my 2 children since December 2000 and have put many thousands of pounds in to maintain the property with no input from either sibling. I am keen to know where I would stand legally now with regard to this property if you could provide any advice?

I have offered them 30k each from a mortgage I will be able to raise if they put my name solely on the title deeds but they have not as yet responded. This would be the maximum I could afford to raise, I am 52!

Thank you for your question.Can you clarify for me: you were cut out of your late mother's will completely?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No. The scenario was best case for my circumstances at the time. There was an understanding between the lawyer writing the will and advising on the best way forward and my 2 siblings and myself. The Will was discussed between us all and it was agreed that if I did not live in the house for a year it would be sold but I was given the right to live in the property until it was reviewed within 10 years. We were all of the opinion that this would carry on after the 10 years was up but the way the will was written does not state this but now that it is solely in my brother and sisters names. They both agree that this is not what the intention was and would like to sort this fairly however the onle way I can afford to buy them out is to raise a mortgage which I can do but can only raise 60,000. If we were to sell the property I would not be able to buy another property for myself and my children. Both my siblings are married and have homes of their own which they own outright. My children think of this property as home. I do not feel able to continue to maintain the property and not receive the benefit of this. I think the property is worth about 240,000

What does the will say about division of proceeds had in fact the house been sold, if for example you had moved out?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I am not 100% sure but I don't think it states anything specific just that it would be sold.

And what would happen to the proceeds?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

They would have been shared out between the 3 of us but my brother and sister received 15,000 each as well so it would need to have been done fairly but it would have been decided maongst ourselves as to the amounts each. I still feel having put about 30 - 40,000 in to the property over the last 14 years I ought to have a larger share.

Because the property is in the name of your brother and sister and not you, if you follow the letter of the law, you are in some difficulties. Technically, they could sell the house and split the proceeds leaving you only with a claim for the monies you have spent upgrading the property, presumably with their consent.
For that reason this has to be settled by way of negotiation to ensure that you get a fair settlement. Unfortunately the law does not recognise why a person drafted their will in the way that they did, even if it was for very good reasons such as those narrated by you.
It would have been better if your mother had put some trust provisions in the will so that the property was not left to your brother and sister outright. As things stand, if your brother and sister wants to play hard ball, this could place you in some difficulty and I have to stress that you have no right to any share of this house at all unless you reach agreement with them.
Happy to discuss further. I hope this helps. Please leave a positive rating so that I am credited for my time.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for this information albeit pretty bleak. If it was to come to the worst case scenario would I not be able to contest the Will? Plus the fact I and my children have lived there for 14 years?

I'm guessing they're not likely to be happy with 30,000 each...

Unfortunately there are no grounds to contest the will, nor does your living in the property give you any legal rights.
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