My late father died in January with intestate. His only possession was his house, which has been valued at £240,000. Our mother died before my father and she had no will.
I am one of three siblings. My other two siblings want to take over my late father’s property. I do not do.
They have offered me 25 per cent cash of which £30,000 has now been paid and the remaining £30,000 in about 18 months.
Inheritance dilemma: My two siblings want to keep my late father’s house, but I can’t – can I force the sale? (Stock Image)
Is this a reasonable time to wait? Is there a legal time frame within which they have to pay me? Can I force the sale?
Personally I think they are unfair. I stopped working and took early retirement for health reasons at the end of 2019, with no additional pensions or bonus payments.
It took them seven months to tell me they don’t have the full money to buy me out.
Tanya Jefferies, of This is Money, replies: I am sorry to hear that you disagree with your siblings about your inheritance at a time when you have all recently passed away.
It is common for some children to want to maintain a family home after losing their last remaining parent, although this may be beyond their financial means.
This can happen even if no one’s share has to be bought out, if operating costs are high. However, it can take some time for reality to set in, especially when people are grieving and sentimentally attached to the possession of a deceased loved one.
Unfortunately, unless a trustee has been appointed to settle your father’s estate who is neutral enough to intervene, it may be up to you to break the news to your siblings that they simply don’t have enough money to put on his property. to stay, and therefore it should be sold.
My divorced and childless brother died without a will, so who in our family will inherit?
An earlier question from a reader contained an estate worth about £400,000 and asked who will inherit and what percentage?
Read here the answer and the order of inheritance when someone dies intestate.
That is, unless they have intentionally made you a lower offer than they can actually afford, in the hopes that you will accept it to resolve the matter if you need money immediately.
I mention the last possibility not to upset you, but you probably know your own family and whether they really tried to scrape together enough money to pay you for the past seven months.
However, based on the information you’ve provided here, it sounds like you should be receiving a third of the value of your father’s house, not just a quarter.
Also, after waiting a while for your siblings’ offer, it will be understandable if you are not willing to accept a partial prepayment and vague assurance that you will get the rest in about 18 months.
Unfortunately, therefore, you may decide that it is necessary to force the sale of the property to resolve this matter. If so, it is best to seek legal advice as soon as possible if you have not already done so.
Even if you are willing to consider your siblings’ offer, it seems that things between you are already so tricky that it would be wise to talk to a lawyer anyway to get their opinion on the best way. to get ahead.
If nothing else, it sounds like you need someone else in your corner, and an informed, down-to-earth professional can provide crucial help right now.
We’ve asked a lawyer with experience in this field to give his opinion on your situation, and he explains below your options and how to find your own legal help.
Luke Watson, a partner who specializes in controversial trust and probate litigation at the law firm Stone King, answers: It is always a very difficult and stressful time for a family when a loved one passes away.
Because of the heightened emotions, it is common for tensions to develop between family members, such as siblings.
Luke Watson: If your siblings can’t afford to buy you out, the property needs to be sold
The situation can be particularly difficult when a parent does not leave a will, as this often delays the distribution of the estate.
How should your father’s estate be distributed in this situation?
I assume your father was not remarried at the time of his death and this means that his estate will pass to all three siblings under what are known as the intestacy rules; these set out what happens after someone dies without leaving a will.
In this situation, you and your siblings should all receive an equal share of your father’s estate.
When someone dies and leaves a property to be shared by more than one sibling, the property is normally sold with the net proceeds of the sale divided equally (after payment of any taxes and the selling costs such as legal and brokerage fees) .
It is possible that the share of one or more siblings will be bought out, but this is normally an equal share of the total value rather than the reduced amount offered to you.
If your siblings can’t afford to buy you out, the house must be sold.
What steps can you take to ensure you get your share of the estate?
When someone dies without leaving a will, an administrator is normally appointed to divide the estate, and this is usually a close relative.
If there is a dispute between siblings, legal advice should be sought as unfortunately it may be necessary to go to court to enforce a sale and/or request a change of administrator.
Any judicial application would normally be made in the Chancery Division of the High Court. The current administrator may be one of your siblings, which means that a court may decide to appoint an independent administrator, such as a lawyer, because of the family dispute.
I’m not sure why your siblings lowered your offer, but at least you’re all entitled to an equal share of a third under the rules of the will.
The 18 month delay seems arbitrary and you are under no obligation to accept it.
It is a good idea to seek independent legal advice from a lawyer without delay.
You should be able to find a suitable lawyer near you by searching the Law Society database here.
It may be possible to find an attorney who will agree that legal fees will be paid from your estate, if any, rather than upfront, although this will vary from company to company, depending on the individual circumstances of each case.
The government has useful information about what happens if someone dies without a will here.
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