is there a fraud here?

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
6 replies 1.8K views
mrs_murdlemrs_murdle Forumite
10 Posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
My mother died in June 2009, suddenly, however she was quite frail. I was given to understand by her that in her" will" she had left half to me and half to my stepfather. Her estate consisted of personal efects, clothing, sheet music etc and a house. The house had equity taken out on it for repairs, which it desperately needed. I was also given to understand that my stepfather would stay in the house, because should the house be sold, funds remaining from the property would be shared. He refused to take out probate. He told me at her funeral that he would be "off" as soon as everything was sorted. He did not move out. He refused to speak to me at all about anything. I entered a caveat on the property, which is renewed every six months. For those who know these things, no reminders are sent, but i did continue to take out the caveats although there would be a small gap between. The last caveat taken out expired in February this year. I have been paying for two years on a property that has been sold! (is there a comeback here).

I heard that my stepfather died in October 2012 and, not only had he sold the house in October 2010, he also changed his surname.
So, I seem unable to move anywhere, probably because the amount of cash involved is not much. I was informed that my stepfather had left everything to a woman living quite close to the old house, she refuses to make any contact at all, because she doesn't want to. I contacted the solicitors involved who also refuse to answer questions. Where are my mother' ashes? Where are her things. I truthfully get so angry sometimes about it. I was the only child, there are no brothers and sisters, my mother had no brothers and sisters .

Where do I go and what can I do, if anything.

Thank you for reading this.:cry:

Replies

  • phiwinukphiwinuk Forumite
    17 Posts
    Sounds like you are in a dreadful situation. The obvious course of action is to get legal advice - but suspect you may not be in a position to pay for it. So is there a law or advice centre near to you to help?

    Hope you get things worked out. Sometimes if there isn't much money involved it can be best to write it all off to experience and move on.
  • Savvy_SueSavvy_Sue Forumite
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    mrs_murdle wrote: »
    I was given to understand by her that in her" will" she had left half to me and half to my stepfather.

    <snip>

    He refused to take out probate.
    Was there actually a will, or did she die without making one, having expressed her intentions? If there was a will, was your stepfather named as executor?
    mrs_murdle wrote: »
    The last caveat taken out expired in February this year. I have been paying for two years on a property that has been sold! (is there a comeback here).

    I heard that my stepfather died in October 2012 and, not only had he sold the house in October 2010, he also changed his surname.
    I don't quite understand: I don't know how caveats work, but

    a) you wouldn't have any comeback if the house was sold during a time when the caveat had lapsed

    b) do you not check whose name the house is held in before you put the caveat on?

    c) how did your stepfather sell the house without taking out probate?
    mrs_murdle wrote: »
    I was informed that my stepfather had left everything to a woman living quite close to the old house, she refuses to make any contact at all, because she doesn't want to. I contacted the solicitors involved who also refuse to answer questions. Where are my mother' ashes? Where are her things.
    I'm not sure what you expect from this lady, TBH. Do you think she will know what happened to your mother's ashes and personal belongings?

    You could contact the probate office and see if you can find a copy of your mother's will, and then your stepfather's. That wouldn't cost very much, however if you were supposed to benefit from your mother's will I'm not sure what action you'd be able to take at that point.

    You're angry about this, I can understand that. But dealing with that anger might be better in the long term than trying to get answers to questions which probably can't be answered at this stage.
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  • mrs_murdlemrs_murdle Forumite
    10 Posts
    thank you for the interest shown. The caveat continued, under my mothers name, being registered at the property. It was a passing comment that I found out the house had been sold, so have i being paying for over two years on a property that no longer had her name registered? in which case then did the probate office not check each time the caveat was renewed?
    Personally I do find it odd that a man having had his birth surname for 81 years changed his name at the same time as the property was sold - or am i just being paranoid.
  • John_PierpointJohn_Pierpoint Forumite
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    It costs £3 on-line to check who owns a piece of land legally?
    I think "errors" can be sorted out for up to 12 years for land.
    If the house was owned as joint tenants all the step father needed to do was fill in the appropriate form and send of a copy of the death certificate.
    Have you been watching the wrong government agency?
    http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/probate/caveats

    A quick Google reveals how to enter a caveat on foreign Land Registries, but since preparations for the present electronic register were made, the attitude in England seems to be - If you think you have a legal charge over the land get it registered.
    I still have a legal caution over my own garden - but any future change in rights or ownership would force me to obtain full registration of the land.
    There have been quite a few examples of crooks and their legal advisors managing to hoodwink the Land Registry. Compensation should be paid in such circumstances.
  • WillornotWillornot Forumite
    16 Posts
    There is much you can do at small or no cost.
    1. Find out when the house was sold. By land registry or by google. On some sites you can check sold date and price it was sold for. You can then check if your caveat was in place.
    2. Check the names on land registry for property ownership at the time of sale.
    3. A little chat with present owners or agent who sold the property would find the solicitor who did the conveyancing on the sale. Maybe the present owners would advise you.
    4. Probate registry would provide a copy of your moms will but only if probate was necessary. If the property was held as joint tenants probate may not have been required. If held as tenants in common probate would have been required. Land registry may help with how the property was owned.
    Look at your home insurance to check if you have Legal Expenses cover. They may look at the facts to decide if you have a case for negligence. A meeting with an Independant solicitor may help you decide if there would be a case and a first meeting may be free. Good luck
  • loubelloubel Forumite
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    You mentioned that you entered a caveat on the property but a caveat is lodged at the probate registry to stop someone obtaining a grant of probate. The probate registry are not connected to the land registry, so a caveat wouldn't stop your step-father from selling the property I'm afraid.

    If your step-father was able to sell the house without a grant of probate then it is likely that it was owned by him and your mum as joint tenants - meaning it became his on her death notwithstanding what she put in her Will.

    As has already been mentioned, to find out what your rights and options are you will need to find out what her Will actually said (do you have/did you ever see a copy?), who the executor was, who owned the house and if jointly owned whether it was owned as joint tenants or tenants in common.
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