The clients were the administrators of their late mother’s estate (the Deceased having died intestate in circa 2013). The Deceased’s home had, for various reasons, been purchased and registered in the name of her son (David) in the 1980s, however, the Deceased paid for all mortgage sums and house expenses on the understanding that she was the “true” owner. No deeds of beneficial interest were entered into.
In 2004, David (from whom the Deceased and our clients had become largely estranged) died suddenly in the Isle of Wight, having married two years earlier. David died intestate and no steps were taken to administer his estate nor were any steps taken with regard to the ownership of the Deceased’s property. As such, it remained in David’s name at the time of the Deceased’s subsequent death in 2013.
Given the ownership quagmire, following the Deceased’s death, the mortgage lender commenced possession proceedings which our clients (using a different firm) were unable to defeat, and the excess sale monies from the subsequent sale were paid into Court (circa £360,000).
The clients approached us seeking to obtain these monies which they claimed were properly owed to the Deceased’s estate and which they, as the only surviving children of the Deceased, would therefore inherit. In the absence of any express declaration, extensive investigations were undertaken to obtain evidence as to the circumstances of the ownership arrangement. Attempts were also made to contact David’s widow (with whom the clients had had no previous contact, but who would also be an interested party, given her interest under David’s estate), but again with no response.
Proceedings were subsequently issued in the High Court for a declaration as to the beneficial ownership of the property in favour of the Deceased, and for the sums held by the Court to be paid out to our clients. Shortly after issuing, David’s widow was located and proceedings were served on her, together with an application to have her appointed as representative of the defendant estate.
A final disposal hearing is currently listed for the end of February, however, following some initial correspondence from David’s widow seeking to contest the claim, a settlement has now been agreed between the parties whereby it is accepted that the property was beneficially owned by the Deceased solely, and that the sale proceeds held by the Court, properly belong to the Deceased’s estate.