Pensioner’s wishes upheld

Posted: 27th May 2016

HousesFamily disputes over inheritance are sadly common and blight the lives of many old people. That was certainly so in the case of an 85-year-old woman whose daughter and son-in-law claimed that she was legally obliged to leave her home to them in her will.

The pensioner had bought her home at a discount under the ‘right to buy’ scheme. Her daughter and son-in-law argued that they had paid the mortgage and most of the utility bills for many years after receiving her assurance that they would inherit the property. It was submitted that she had purchased the house ‘by proxy’ for them on the understanding that she could live there for the rest of her life.

Following a family falling-out, the pensioner had announced her intention not to leave the house to them. Their response was to apply to the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) for a restriction to be placed over the property's title. That would have inhibited the pensioner’s freedom to deal with the property as she wished.

In rejecting the application, however, the FTT found that there had never been any agreement, or common intention, that the daughter and son-in-law would have a beneficial interest in the house. Although they had contributed to utility bills, the vast majority of mortgage instalments had been paid by the pensioner. The reality was that the daughter and son-in-law had lived rent-free in the property for 24 years and that the pensioner could bequeath it to whomever she wished.