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Remus2004, Barrister
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 2456
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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I have a serious problem and need advice as to my rights. In

Customer Question

I have a serious problem and need advice as to my rights. In 1998 my father died. My mother was not looking after herself properly. She lived in a bungalow that she had inherited from her mother. My mother made it very clear that she did not want to go into an old people's home. I felt that I had no choice but to look after her. My husband and I discussed the situation with my mother and it was agreed that we would sell our flat where we had lived for 16 years and extend her property by building another storey so that we could all live there. My husband and I purchased a caravan and with our two children we moved into the caravan that was parked in my mother's garden. She agreed to taking out a mortgage on the bungalow. We became joint owners and our names were added to the land registry. All 3 names were on the mortgage. We did not get a deed of trust as I trusted my mother. We made it clear that we would only go ahead with the building work if, when she died, the house would be hers. This would mean that my brother would not inherit a share of the property. My family lived in the caravan for a year. When the building work was completed I became my mother's carer. I did all the cooking, cleaning, shopping and anything else she needed apart from showering. She used her disability allowance to pay for a woman to come and shower her once a week and clean her living room, bedroom, and bathroom. I did it in between these visits. After a few years my mother suddenly announced that she wanted to change from joint tenants to tenants in common. I was worried about this because I understood the difference. She said it would make her feel that she owned her share as joint tenancy didn't. She assured me that it would make no difference and would just make her feel better. I now believe this was a lie. She did not have any contact with my brother for about 8 years but 5 years ago she had 2 heart attacks and nearly died. I contacted him and they resumed contact although he exerted emotional blackmail over my mother as she had to accept his wife as well. His wife took out a loan and asked my mother to guarantee the loan. This happened 2 days after my father died and my mother was still in shock. My sister in law did not make the repayments and my mother had to pay off the loan. My mother wrote a letter telling her that she wanted nothing more to do with her. My mother told my husband and I that my brother had therefore had his inheritance. I continued to look after my mother as her health deteriorated. 5 years ago she had a leg amputated. She had COPD and diabetes. It was not easy. We could not leave her. She resented us having a week's holiday on a handful of occasions. I had no independence. Last year she told me that in her will it said that after her death, if and when the house was sold my brother would get her third. I was shocked and said that this wasn't fair. I said we would lose our home. She refused to accept this. I saw two solicitors who told me that my brother would be able to force us to sell to get his share. I told her this. She refused to believe it. She said that she had said that in her will because she envisaged that we would continue to live there after her death and then in 20 or so years we would be elderly ourselves (I am almost 52 now) and we wouldn't want a 4 bed roomed house anymore. She said that then she felt it would be fair to give my brother his share. I pointed out that we had increased the value of the property considerably by the building work we had carried out. My mother's name was on the mortgage but she did not contribute towards any of the mortgage repayments. I told her that I had taken legal advice and two solicitors had told me that my brother could force us to sell. She refused to accept this at first. Then she did contact her solicitor. He visited her at home and she asked him to amend her will so that I would not be forced to sell. She said that she wanted it to say after 20 or 30 years when the house was sold. He did not make this amendment although my brother is aware that she tried. On 16 January she died and now my whole world is an absolute nightmare. My brother and my mother's friend are executors of the will. Not me. My brother is being as difficult as he can and shouting abuse at me frequently. Yesterday he said that he now owns a third of the house and if we don't sell he is going to draw up papers so that we have to pay rent for living in his property. I don't know what to do. I don't have funds to dispute the will. It hasn't been read yet but he has a copy and says he has known for a year what he would get. I don't know what my rights are. I have looked up Propietary Estoppel but I don't know how much this would cost to pursue. Should I just sit and wait to see what he will do? It is not just me and my two children who are going to lose our home. We have two foster children as well. I need advice desperately. This is making me ill. Please help.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
How much is the house worth and how much is outstanding on the Mortgage?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I think it is probably worth £300,000 - £350,000. Before the building work it was valued at £200,000 approx. it was a two bed roomed bungalow and is now a four bed roomed house. I can't remember how much is left on the mortgage. I will have to look it up.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
Just to check - you paid all the mortgage payments?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

yes we have paid all the repayments. we still have a few more years to pay.

I dont know if we have a strong enough case for Propriatry Estopel. I have no idea how much this would cost as we have very little savings.

Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
Best guess on the outstanding mortgage?