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Property inheritance

(80 Posts)
Rexdog12 Mon 17-Apr-17 13:16:09

Hi all, a bit of a legal and ethical question here.
Shortened version ("still a bit long, sorry)
My husbands mother ( age 92) has survived her husband by 30 years. There are 3 sons , now all in 50s/60's themselves. The family house was originally in the name of their father. This was not changed for 20 years. The mother originally had a will that the 3 sons would inherit equally. My husband and his youngest brother just found out that, 10 years ago,the middle brother got their mum to sign the deeds of the house over to him. We don't know why. He never consulted or told his brothers about his actions. Their mum now has dementia and is too old and frail now for us to discuss it with her. The middle son has also mysteriously now got the will under lock and key and won't show his brothers. We don't know for sure but suspect that was changed too, given he is not willing to show us a copy. Middle brother refuses to discuss it and my question is, what, if anything is to be done now? We don't think the house was sold as such to him, just that when he took his mum to ostensibly get the deeds changed from their dad to their mum, he simply had them signed over to himself. Does this mean the two other brothers have to accept this?

Luckygirl Mon 17-Apr-17 13:32:42

I do think you should take legal advice over this. If middle son has cajoled mum into leaving everything to him, then the will can be contested on several grounds, but it is costly and messy. Advice now could save a great deal of grief in the long run.

I think you will find that, unless middle son has sole Power of Attorney, he cannot keep the will from other family members. He sounds a real charmer.

Jayanna9040 Mon 17-Apr-17 13:34:15

Afraid so, if she was still of sound mind at the time, the house was hers to do with as she liked. You could initiate a legal case citing coercion but that would be pretty hard to prove.
If your BIL is the only one with a copy of the will there is not much you can do until the death. Then you could contest it. It will be a risky and expensive process though.
Tax should have been paid on transfer of the asset. You could check this and report him if not.

Jayanna9040 Mon 17-Apr-17 13:35:42

A Will is private until after the death. Nobody has he tight to see it.

Norah Mon 17-Apr-17 13:37:46

I think proving what happened 10 years ago would be hard. I'd advise dh to let it go.

nanaK54 Mon 17-Apr-17 13:54:55

How did you find out, did the 'middle son' tell you?

Ilovecheese Mon 17-Apr-17 13:56:04

Could it be possible that it was transferred into his name to avoid paying inheritance tax? Or could they have thought that care home fees could be avoided if it was in the brother's name?

Ana Mon 17-Apr-17 13:58:45

You can obtain a copy of the Land Certificate from the Land registry for a fee, just to make sure whose name the property's now in an when it was transferred.

Gemmag Mon 17-Apr-17 14:13:25

No it does not. They need a good Contentsious Probate Lawyer who will advise them on what to do.

Norah Mon 17-Apr-17 14:15:16

Maybe I am missing something, why does any of this matter (mil is still alive)?

aggie Mon 17-Apr-17 14:18:58

if Mum was compus mentis 10 years ago the siblings have no case and better shrug it off and climb off their high horse

Rigby46 Mon 17-Apr-17 14:48:00

I think ana's advice should be your first step to find out if anything really has been done that is legally binding. It would be best to do this before spending money on legal advice. If it has, then as others have said, if she was of sound mind, that's it. Is the house worth a lot? As she has continued living in it, it will still count for inheritance tax purposes. I have to admit that in this situation, unless middle brother was doing all the caring, I would be miffed. I know it's hers to do with as she wishes but that's easier said than accepted I would think. I've not been in that position I have to say though. I don't think that's getting on a high horse, just being honest

Ana Mon 17-Apr-17 14:53:07

Quite, especially as MIL had apparently originally split her estate between the three sons.

janeainsworth Mon 17-Apr-17 14:55:20

norah I think it matters because most people assume that their parents will be fair and equitable in distributing their assets to their children, notwithstanding the parents' right to spend their money as they please.
If a property has been given to one sibling and especially if the gift has been concealed from the other siblings, that must raise questions about whether there was any coercion, and even if the gift was freely given, the siblings could justifiably feel hurt and upset that they had not received the same consideration as the one who had benefited from the parent's generosity.
It's rather different from the money just being given to charity and none of the children benefitting.

Rexdog12 Mon 17-Apr-17 15:15:51

Hi all thanks for replies. We found out last year about this by a careless comment by another relative who didn't realise what had happened and led us to ask the question of middle brother. We never took any action as we didn't really know what we could do if anything, so we let it go until now. Norah - Their mum is still alive but old and ill and is ready to go into care, social services are just getting involved and this is what's brought the whole thing to a head , the middle brother let drop a comment about renting the house out The fact the middle brother has got the will locked away and wouldn't show us got us thinking.
Tbh the house isn't worth enough to be affected by inheritance tax, it's value is possible about 130000 based on similar in area. We've not really looked into it. Not that this is really the point but my husband did look after his mum for years when she had facial cancer 15 years ago. Their mum is now being looked after full time by the youngest brother who gave up his job to do so and he is golden to her, does all her meals, shopping, cleans her up when she has "accidents" . Even though he has his own family, he lives in next street and has done a lot over the years. The middle brother works, has his own house and lives in Dorset. Has never been involved in looking after his mum at all. He has petrol money off his mum when he visits and pleads poverty generally. Didn't really want to get into all this as some posters can be really judgemental, but i say this now just to give some context.
Btw it may be that we can't do anything and ok that might be the case, but just asking for opinions, gransnet has such a lot of people to know things and no one we have asked in the family has any idea if we could do anything, as i said it was 10 years ago. Could really do without comments like those from Aggie, we are not on high horse, just trying to establish if anyone thought we should get advice and if so best place to start

Norah Mon 17-Apr-17 15:16:23

janeainsworth I was trying to point out that mil is still alive. Her will matters not in the moment. Sorting the whys a woman, now with dementia, deeded her home is impossible.

I'm not there. I hope I would look to the relationships, accept the disposition gracefully.

Rigby46 Mon 17-Apr-17 15:23:32

OP - AgeConcern might help you with what now appears to be another problem. Will ss treat her as still owning the house as she has continued to live in it? If so, then she won't get help with fees. I've no idea in these circumstances what middle brother could be forced to do if he legally owns it. It's a horrible situation for your dh and yb. Please try and get some advice from a trusted source -like AC - you can access their fact sheets on line.

Norah Mon 17-Apr-17 15:26:34

I imagine Social Services will have advise and rules. I believe they could sort the deed rather quickly as they certainly have access to the data.

I certainly don't believe you to be on a high horse, not at all.

annsixty Mon 17-Apr-17 15:27:47

Even if it was only £5000 I would not be able to " let it go".
It sounds underhand and unfair and if coercion was involved,illegal. Get legal advice on a free initial basis.

Rigby46 Mon 17-Apr-17 15:28:32

It's Age Concern Fact Sheet 40.

Luckygirl Mon 17-Apr-17 15:31:43

If SSD consider that this lady has deliberately sought to transfer property to her son for the purpose of avoiding care home payments, they can put a legal charge on it so that they can recoup the care home costs when she dies and the house is sold. There has to be some very persuasive reason for the transfer to the son for them to ignore the value of her home.

Welshwife Mon 17-Apr-17 15:32:17

From what you now say if it were only to be one brother who had the house it should be the youngest one! I think that steps do need to be taken now to ascertain what the situation is - if MIL goes into a home it will need to be paid for. I would say you should get advice - CAB or a solicitor as they often give a half hour free and a lot can be done in that time. They will know exactly where to go to get the information. If MIL made a will using a solicitor they often keep a copy of the will which could be useful. If there is an agreement with middle son it would need to be signed and witnessed etc and the solicitor might be able to sort that too. You need to know the facts before any nursing home comes into play.

Jalima1108 Mon 17-Apr-17 15:32:38

I would not accept it gracefully if the brother who is doing none of the looking after has somehow coerced his mother into leaving him the house.

Now that social services will be involved they will want to know about her assets and ownership of the house and perhaps whether there was a degree of coercion involved.
What was in the father's will - did he leave everything to his widow or did he specify that it was to be in trust for his sons with his widow to receive a life-time benefit?

Unfortunately, if nothing can be done because it was legally correct if not morally, then it might be best to put it behind you and not think about it as it could make the brothers very bitter.

Jalima1108 Mon 17-Apr-17 15:33:41

sorry, first sentence should have read 'signing the deeds over to him' not leaving him the house.

Norah Mon 17-Apr-17 15:50:05

Won't Social Services have access to deed data? If not, why not?