Probate granted 2009 but estate potentially not distributed correctly. What happens now?

I have jumped over to this board following some brilliant advice on the house buying board. We've discovered some issues with a restriction on my Mother-in-law's property which we need to resolve and are exploring a few potential avenues as to why/when it happened so we can deal with it accordingly.

One possibility is MIL did not fully inherit the beneficial interest in the property from her late husband which they (probably) owned as Tenants in Common.  The will states all possessions and property were to pass to MIL. My husband was executor of his will and was granted probate. However, he does not recall actually 'distributing' anything at the time. There were no sole bank accounts, savings or other assets in his name. As such, other than contacting the relevant authorities to change things to MIL's name,  it was just assumed everything became hers automatically and he does not recall doing anything else legally. 

When asked why he obtained probate, he can only remember that he assumed it was required to act on behalf of MIL.

If this is the case, is anything to be done if it transpires my husband did not fully disperse FIL's property? Is there a process to 'backdate' MIL inheriting the beneficial interest legally?

We are still very much in the realms of supposition until we have sight of some more documents, but this scenario seems to tally with timeline we have. We have two options for dealing with the property restriction, but are exploring all avenues. 

Any help and guidance is very much appreciated. 
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  • edited 14 January at 1:34PM
    SeniorSamSeniorSam Forumite
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    edited 14 January at 1:34PM
    Is MIL still alive?
    If she is and all is going well, then it should all be OK. If the house was owned as Tenants in Common, then the Land Registry should havebeen notified, but this can be done now and is not a concern. Contact them and explain the position. They will need the death certificate and Will.
    I'm a retired IFA who specialised for many years in Inheritance Tax, Wills and Trusts. I cannot offer advice now, so my comments are just meant to be helpful.
  • Robin9Robin9 Forumite
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    I think what your husband did in 2009 was pretty standard.

    When my father died we applied for probate and everything apart from a couple of legacies just drifted over to mum. We did put the house in her name at the time while we thought about it.
    Never pay on an estimated bill
  • ChasingtheWelshdreamChasingtheWelshdream Forumite
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    Yes she is very much alive and is sole proprietor, but a restriction implies she was Tenant in Common rather than Joint Tenant.  It appears she does not have 100% beneficial interest on paper.

    There are other possibilities (other parties with a claim) which we are looking at, so this is only one strand at the moment.

    We understand the restriction will impact when the property is sold, which is hopefully  to be before her death and are aware of how to deal with this in itself.

    But if we can prove she should have inherited the beneficial interest from her husband, does this need to be dealt with anywhere?
  • BooJewelsBooJewels Forumite
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    I just looked at your other thread where you posted the details of the land registry entry in respect of the property and the bank details - it may be appropriate to also post those here.

    My initial guess (didn't read all the other thread) is that I've just done the same with my parents' property, which hadn't changed hands since 1968 - that too had a charge to the bank - what my father called a '50p mortgage' and the lender called a 'nominal mortgage' which would tie in with your Mum's comment that the deeds were with the bank.

    This started to die out after perhaps the early 70s, but before then, you would keep some of your mortgage outstanding so that they kept your deeds in their vaults for safe keeping - I only got mine back about 2 years ago when I paid off my mortgage. 

    If that is the case, all you need to do is pay off the outstanding mortgage to release the charge - in my case it cost £1.26 and a short form to complete - I got the deeds by post about 3 or 4 weeks later - plus a legal document saying that I'd discharged the mortgage and they had no further interest in it - that's the important bit for a sale.  We did this as part of selling the property in advance of the new buyer getting the house re-registered.  
  • edited 14 January at 2:37PM
    ChasingtheWelshdreamChasingtheWelshdream Forumite
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    edited 14 January at 2:37PM
    Thank you. Yes, we have spoken to the bank who have confirmed the charge is indeed for deed storage and we have today made arrangements for this to be paid, closed off and paperwork returned.  That in itself is not so much an issue and will hopefully also shed more light on whether the grandparents were originally mortgagees/owners as we have always assumed. 

    The link to my other thread is here if it is of interest, although it lengthy the registration questions have been very helpfully answered.  https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/comment/78900534#Comment_78900534

    This is this particular part is what we are now pursuing - assuming we can find paperwork proving he had legal and beneficial ownership.

    . "As probate was applied for I’d assume she didn’t inherit everything. The legal ownership of the property wasn’t part of his estate".

    My husband applied for probate because he assumed he needed to, rather than a full understanding. He only recalls informing banks/pensions etc that FIL was now deceased. 

    If we are correct (fingers crossed) and can prove the line of inheritance led ultimately to MIL having 100%, it's whether we need to do anything else probate-wise now. Or whether dealing with the restriction (either removal or trustee to sell) is sufficient.

    This particular sentence on the below website is where I started wondering.

    "With the Beneficiaries identified, the Personal Representative must take steps to transfer the legal and equitable ownership to the correct people"

    Probate Joint Tenancy vs Tenants in Common Explained (co-oplegalservices.co.uk)

    Or indeed if hubby is in trouble if he didn't do everything correctly at the time!


  • SeniorSamSeniorSam Forumite
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    With a property held as Tenants in Common. If the Will states that the deceased ownership of his part of the house would pass to his spouse, then all that needs to be done is at the Land Registry.

    Once they have a copy of the death certificate and Will, to check that the property was to pass to the spouse, then the property can be registered in the sole name of the spouse. Far easier to get it out of the way now than dealing with it when she pops off.
    I'm a retired IFA who specialised for many years in Inheritance Tax, Wills and Trusts. I cannot offer advice now, so my comments are just meant to be helpful.
  • ChasingtheWelshdreamChasingtheWelshdream Forumite
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    Thank you, that is super helpful. 

    MIL is very much being an ostrich and thinks we are making a fuss, which she doesn't really understand. It is hard to persuade her that it needs sorting, and it is far easier to do so now rather than when she sells (or worse).

    After many hours on this, it seems things are starting to align and we will hopefully be able to resolve. We have POA so can do the necessary on her behalf if needed.

    I am feeling much happier than I was a week ago!
  • RASRAS Forumite
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    One possibility that occurs to me is that mum's parents loaned her and father some money towards the house purchase? I seem to remember it as a period of rapid house price increases; certainly we couldn't have afforded to buy a house in the chosen area in 1973, possibly in the town, certainly not the one bought a very few years earlier.

    There may have been some sort of informal understanding about repayment? And it was also a period of high inflation; such that HP over one year cost less than buying goods a year later. So finances in both households may have been stretched?
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • ChasingtheWelshdreamChasingtheWelshdream Forumite
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    This another possibility and on our radar. We are trying to have conversations and find out everything we can. If other parties have a claim on the estate, then so be it, we are not going to argue. As long as we can tie everything up legally that needs it, it will make thing easier down the line.

    It feels a bit like a ‘choose your own adventure’ story. Option A leads here. Option B leads here. 😁
  • Keep_pedallingKeep_pedalling Forumite
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    This another possibility and on our radar. We are trying to have conversations and find out everything we can. If other parties have a claim on the estate, then so be it, we are not going to argue. As long as we can tie everything up legally that needs it, it will make thing easier down the line.

    It feels a bit like a ‘choose your own adventure’ story. Option A leads here. Option B leads here. 😁
    If his will stated that all of his assets are left to his wife as stated in your opening post, why do you think others might have a claim on his estate? Just because the LR records were not updated at the time does not change the fact that she is is the rightful owner of the house.
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