Questions of Cash: How mother without a will left brothers a bleak house
Friday 07 June 2013
Q. My mother died two years ago leaving an estate, but no will. I have one sibling, who lives and works at a house on her property in Wiltshire, which is valued at about £300,000. Since my mother died, my brother has been repaying an interest-only mortgage on the property, which I offered to pay off, but which my brother refused to accept. There are two small patches of land, apart from the house, which have been registered in my brother's sole name at the Land Registry in Weymouth. As far as I know, the house has not been re-registered.
My brother has been to probate, but I think he did not mention my name and I have had no communication with the Probate Office. My brother is 60 years old and he was not dependent on mother. How can I get a share of the estate without upsetting my brother and not force him to sell the house he is living in? Do I pay any tax if he agrees to give me cash? VW, by email.
A. Gary Rycroft, a partner in Joseph A Jones & Co Solicitors of Lancaster says: "If a person dies without leaving a valid will, set rules of law known as the Intestacy Rules dictate who is entitled to administer the estate and who is entitled to benefit from an estate. In broad terms, the entitlement in both cases will be to the surviving spouse and then to the closest blood relations according to the degree of the relationship. In this case we assume there was no surviving spouse and that the closest relatives are the two surviving sons, in which case the brothers are equally entitled to administer the estate and to benefit from it. If there were other children of the deceased who died before her leaving children of their own, the estate would have to be split between each branch of the family and the situation would be more complicated.
"So in this case the two brothers are each entitled to administer the estate and be appointed as the personal representative of the deceased by taking out a grant of representation at the Probate Registry. Also in this case each of them is entitled to share the estate. Where there is no valid will (an intestacy) the grant of representation is known as a grant of letters of administration. In this case we can assume that as the brother has been to probate he has taken out a grant. This puts the brother in the driving seat with regard to administering the estate, but as always with power comes responsibility, so the brother is under a legal duty to use the grant of representation to administer the estate and in this instance divide the estate equally between the two beneficiaries.
"When someone dies the assets of the deceased do not always need to be sold. The beneficiaries concerned can agree to apportion assets between them, so in this case if one brother wants the house and buildings and the other wants the cash, so be it. If there is not enough cash to balance with the house and buildings, the house and buildings could be transferred into the joint names of the brothers and registered as such at the Land Registry. Joint owners of property are entitled to call for a sale of joint property at any time and if the other joint owners do not agree a court order for sale may be obtained.
"Inheritance tax is sometimes payable when a person dies. At present the basic position is that each person has an allowance of £325,000 and it has been that amount since 6 April 2009. So in this example if the total value of the estate at the date of death was less than £325,000 there would be no tax to pay, unless the deceased had made significant gifts during her lifetime which were still deemed to be part of her estate. If the value of the estate here was more than £325,000 then there still may be no inheritance tax to pay if the deceased was entitled to claim all or part of an inheritance tax allowance from a spouse who died before her.
"If the brother dealing with the estate has been to probate the inheritance tax position should be known by him as he would have to complete a required inheritance tax account before obtaining the grant of representation.
"The two brothers need to speak and decide how they are going to divide up the estate between them. If they cannot agree or the brother dealing with the estate will not co-operate, VW should appoint a solicitor to represent him. If that does not break the impasse then ultimately there is a procedure for removing the personal representative, but it is not straightforward.
"This case shows how important it is to have an up-to-date valid will and to appoint executors to administer the estate who you know will be trustworthy, fair and efficient."
Q. We have had a never-ending communication with the tax office for nearly three years, trying to obtain child tax credits. Yet we have still not found out whether we have the right to the tax credits from October 2010. We have three children, but in a letter in April the tax office again stated that my husband and I have no children! How can they get things so wrong for so long? GI, Lincoln.
A. We understand there were delays in obtaining information from the tax office of another country, where you or your husband may have worked in the past. A spokeswoman for HMRC said: "HMRC have asked [the reader] for employment information to establish eligibility. Once we have received that information, we will contact the customer with the decision." It has clearly now obtained the necessary information and decided that you are eligible for tax credits as a few days later you received two payments, one of £1,131.26 and another of £266.02.
Derek Pain: I'm cautious, but remain one of the few bulls in the market
Donald MacInnes: Who would want to be a Barbie girl in a non-Barbie world?
Mark Dampier: How to get an income now that savings are past the 'use by' date
Thousands of UK investors could lose out following collapse of Secured Energy Bonds
Bargain Hunter: Fly off for a winter break in France or Portugal for well under £100
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Rashida Jones speaks out against male-centric porn saying 'women should have sex and feel good about it'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...
£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...
Day In a Page
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion