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Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 35299
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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My friend has been living and looking after her elderly

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My friend has been living and looking after her elderly mother for the last ten years in her mother's home. Her mother died in January 2018. My friend has a sister and they both own one quarter share of the parents home as left to them by their father in his Will with the mother owning one half of the property until her death.The mother's Will left 4/5th of her 1/2 share of the property to my friend and 1/5th to the sister. My friend has also been allowed to stay in the property for 1 year from her mother's death as mentioned in her mother's Will. The utility bills have all been transferred into my friend's name and she is responsible for the upkeep of the property. Unfortunately the sister feels that because she owns a share of the property and she has a key she has the right to walk in and out of the house whenever she likes without ringing the doorbell or announcing by phone when she wants to come round. My friend says that the sister and her family have been coming into her "home" and she knows that they have been going through her private papers and belongings because things have been moved. My friend has to live with the chain on the door all the time she is in the home and wonders what she finds when she has been out of the home. She lives there alone and is hard of hearing and not in good health so doesnt need the sister coming in and out of her home when she please. The sister has her own property but my friend does not have a key to her property. My friend has asked her sister not to just walk into the house but to ring the doorbell and would prefer her not to come into the house when she is out or away. The sister has refused saying she owns a share of the property and can do what she likes. The ,sister cannot ,be trusted.Does the sister have this right to come and go as she pleases and what are the legalities of my friend changing thd locks to secure her privacy.Look forward to hearing your respone.Regards
Maggie

My name is Clare

I shall do my best to help you but I need some further information first

What was the exact wording of the Will that allowed your friend to remain in the property?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
I dont know the exact wording but something like .....That my daughter Hilary remain in the property for 12 months from the date of my death while the property is being sold and to keep the property in reasonable repair
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Can you please get back to me asap as we need to know what my friend's position is as it's making her ill

The exact wording is important - but it would be unusual for it not to be such that in fact there is an implied right that your friend should have "quiet enjoyment" of the property whilst she lives there.

This means that her sister is certainly not allowed access to the property other than by invitation

On that basis I suggest that she changes the locks and informs her sister that she is welcome to inspect her property by prior arrangement if she so wishes

I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details

Clare and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Hi Clare
Further to my question of a few weeks ago, unfortunately I admitted a pertinent piece of information. My friend and her sister are joint executors of her late mothers estate. My friend changed the front door lock about 3 weeks ago for reasons outlined in my last correspondence with you. She has been allowing her sister access to the property and she has visited on several occasions to sort through possessions and she will have continued access as long as my friend is present. The sister is now threatening legal action to be allowed a key and stating that this action will be paid for from the estate. Since my friend has been bequeathed the majority of the mothers estate she will, in effect, be paying almost entirely for legal action against herself. My friend has requested that the sister forward evidence of her legal position but to date has only received the threat of legal action. My friend has informed her sister that she is shortly to leave for holiday and that seems to have triggered a sudden focus on and demand for a key, enabling her to enter the property during her absence. We are very suspicious of her motives for wanting the key. As a result, my friend is reluctant to give her the key and is also concerned about open-ended costs to the estate of legal action and how it may affect her as joint executor. It is understandable that preventing access and thereby hindering her sisters ability to jointly execute the estate would be illegal but she has enjoyed access and will have continuing access whilst my friend is present. In these circumstances would legal action be deemed spurious or is my friend potentially at risk, meaning that she should surrender a copy of the key? The situation is becoming more adversarial and it is affecting my friends health so I would really appreciate it if you could respond as a matter of urgency, so she has some clarity of her position prior to her departure on holiday in the next few days. Kind regards. P.S. My friend has had an email from the probate solicitor confirming that the sister must be given access to the property and that having changed the locks my friend should give her sister a key. We strongly feel that her sister is saying to the Probate Solicitor that she is not being given access. Subsequently my friend advised the solicitor that she was and is being given access but the solicitor says she should be given a key. We do not think that the family solicitor appreciates the fact that it is my friends "her domicile" and is probably suggesting surrendering the key to try to keep the peace rather than from an objective legal stand point. Whilst this may be good advice we would like to know where my friend stands legally.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Please can you reply as a matter of urgency. Thank you

My apologies I was unwell.

I have read what Marcus has said but sadly he overlooked an important point.

She can instruct a locksmith as she is an Executor.

You have not said if Probate has been granted.

If it has then the "quiet enjoyment" issue arises