Don't Even Think About Doing a Property Deal Without Legal Advice

12th September 2019 By Arman Khosravi

Property purchases are, for the majority of people, the highest-value deals they ever enter into and that is why they should never be undertaken in haste or without expert legal advice. A case in which an amateurish, home-made agreement led to years of costly strife between family members illustrates the point effectively.

Due to concerns that the opportunity to purchase a property might otherwise be lost, the sale agreement was created in a hurry, without the assistance of a solicitor. It stated that a woman had put £150,000 towards the purchase of the house by her stepson and his wife, that the money was not an interest-free loan and that she would have a share in the property to reflect the value of her contribution.

After a family rift developed, the woman launched proceedings. A judge rejected the couple’s claim that the agreement was a forgery and ruled that she was entitled to a 37.5 per cent stake in the house. He ordered that the property be sold and the woman be paid her share from the net proceeds of the sale. Responsibility for discharging the mortgage on the property fell on the couple alone.

In challenging that outcome, the couple argued that the woman’s claim should have been dismissed in its entirety because she had not come to court with ‘clean hands’. She had confessed during the trial that she had forged her deceased husband’s will, appointing herself as his executor and beneficiary. He had in fact died intestate, with the result that most of the money she had contributed to the house purchase did not belong to her but to the estate.

The High Court acknowledged, in the form of a declaration, that the woman held that part of her stake in the property attributable to her purported inheritance from her husband on trust for his estate. However, in dismissing the couple’s appeal, the Court noted that the stepson held his interest in his father’s estate in a different capacity to his interest in the property.

The woman had also put some of her own money towards the purchase, and the estate, rather than her stepson, was the principal victim of her act of forgery. The agreement accurately stated the amount of her contribution and it was not rendered unenforceable by the fact that not all of that money belonged to her. Neither the judge’s division of the sale proceeds nor his order that the couple pay 70 per cent of the legal costs of the case could be criticised.

Source: Concious

Latest News

Always Take Independent Professional Advice Before Investing Your Money

27th May, 2020 By

Fraudulent investment schemes are perennially tempting to the unwary and it really does make sense to take independent professional advice before parting with your money. In one case, the High Court found compelling evidence that hundreds of small investors had fallen victim to such a scheme. About 240 investors claimed to have been lured into a fraudulent commodity trading scheme by marketing literature which promised exceptionally high, and essentially risk-free, returns. The scheme was promoted by an overseas company that was later dissolved. After the scheme was closed, the majority...

Do Your Medical Records Stay Confidential Forever?

22nd May, 2020 By

Your privacy rights will die with you, but that does not mean that just anyone will be permitted access to your medical records after you are gone. The extent to which such records should remain under wraps post mortem was analysed in a High Court test case. A man believed that his brother had, some years prior to his death, arranged to have samples of his sperm frozen at a fertility clinic. As personal representative of his brother's estate, he asked the clinic to provide him with copies of all...

Cruelly Deceitful Husband Ordered to Pay Betrayed Ex-Wife £2.25 Million

19th May, 2020 By

Where blame, if any, attaches for the breakdown of a marriage is generally irrelevant when it comes to dividing assets following divorce. However, as a cruelly deceitful husband discovered to his cost, bad behaviour can have consequences in that it is hardly likely to endear you to a family judge. The case concerned a couple of Russian origin who had two children during their 25-year marriage. The husband had encouraged his wife to move to the UK with their children whilst he remained in Russia. It came as a complete...

Lordship of the Manor Almost Scuppers Residential Development

14th May, 2020 By

Lordships of the manor, whilst sounding grand, are often viewed as arcane titles with little real significance in terms of property rights. However, that is not always so and, in one High Court case, a lordship which was bought for just £100 almost proved a fatal stumbling block to a proposed residential development. As lords of the manor – a title they had acquired from their father, who bought it in the 1960s – a brother and sister owned the freehold of a scenic common. They grew concerned after the...