Eleanor Metcalf answers a readers question in
Choice Magazine published on 24 June 2016.
Q. I am 83 and have recently sold my house for
Ł200,000. My son has suggested we combine our assets and
together buy a house which would be suitable for both his family
and me. Financially this would be feasible. However, I have
bequeathed my assets to be split equally between my son and
daughter. How can I ensure that this would happen eventually
following my death?
A. A well-drawn up Will can ensure that your
assers pass evenly to your son and daughter; the problem (for your
daughter) is how it will happen in practical terms if the majority
of your assets are tied up in your sons property.
Your daughter can be names as a joint legal owner of the
property on your death, with her share equivalent to proportion of
the property she is entitled to under your Will, but she will not
be able to get the money unless/until your son sells.
Your son and daughter could discuss an equity release, or your
son buying out your daughter's share, but there is a risk that
if they are not on good terms, this will not happen, and your
daughter would need to apply to the court for an order for sale,
which would not be in anyone's best interests.
If you have other assets, you should leave a letter of wishes to
your executors asking them to use these to make up your daughters
share so far as possible. If you have concerns about the
disadvantages for your daughter, consider declining your son's
proposal and buying elsewhere, or, if your son can afford to buy
the property (with an annex for you) himself, for him to go ahead,
with you paying him rent if needed, although your Will should
provide that the rent comes off your son's half-share.
If you do go ahead, your contribution to your son's property
can be protected by you being names as a joint legal owner on the
Land Registry title, with you and your son holding as 'tenants
in common' so that your share of the property can pass under
your Will, and not to your son automatically on your death.
There should be a declaration of trust setting out how the
equity is split between you. To avoid problems on your death and a
potential dispute between your son and daughter, sit down and
discuss the proposal and its implications for them, so that they
understand what you want to achieve and you can agree the best way
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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A well-meaning friend, relative or even a carer of a deceased person may take what they believe are helpful steps to tidy up a deceased’s affairs in the days following their death to pave the way for those who will carry out the administration of the estate.
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