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Buying a home with an elderly parent

When good intentions turn into a costly dispute

When a parent gets older and especially if their partner has died, families sometimes decide to pool their resources and buy a larger home for the whole family to live in.

This type of arrangement can benefit everyone. For example, the son or daughter can look after their parent more closely at home and the parent can enjoy being part of a busy household, rather than living alone.

It may well be that all sides are happy to proceed, but often families don’t consider what would happen if there was a disagreement.

Take the following potential situation for example.

An elderly mother (M) loses her husband and lives 150 miles from her son (S) and his family. S suggests to M that they should both sell their homes and purchase a larger property together which the whole family can live in. M and S agree and both put their homes on the market.

S sells his property and finds a larger property to purchase. M sells her property and passes the sale proceeds to her son to help fund the purchase of the new property. The family live together in the new property for a number of years, until unfortunately there is a serious disagreement and M is asked to leave.

It’s only at this point that M realises that the new property has been registered in the sole name of S and she has no formal legal interest in the new property.

M asks S for her money back and S insists that the money was a gift.

M now has no home and no funds. M is essentially homeless.

This may be an extreme example, but it is situation that families can find themselves in – even when they entered into the arrangement with the best of intentions.

It’s vital that all parties’ interests are protected throughout the purchase of the new property and M and S should both have independent legal advice.

M is now faced with having to take Court proceedings to establish her beneficial interest in the new property and possibly force it to be sold under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act (TOLATA). This can be a stressful, lengthy and costly process.

If you have entered into a property sharing arrangement and are concerned that your interests may not have been protected, our specialist solicitors at ORJ can help.

It may even be that there has not yet been a breakdown in the relationship and steps can be taken in a non-contentious way to resolve problems before things get out of hand. Early advice from ORJ will help to reach a resolution.

If Court proceedings are needed, our solicitors will be able to guide you through the process and support you in getting back what you are entitled to – in the quickest and most cost effective way.

To discuss points raised in this article, contact us on 01785 223440.