Update on dispute over jointly inherited house, and more questions

DepositSaver
DepositSaver Posts: 239
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edited 13 February at 7:17AM in Deaths, funerals & probate
Quite some time ago I had some good advice and support on a previous thread about the situation with the late father's house.
https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6232470/possible-dispute-over-jointly-inherited-house/p17

In a nutshell, dad died, brother lived with him in his house, dad's will left the estate 50-50 to my brother and me, brother is unemployed having been sacked from his job. I don't want to own half the house as have my own mortgage and bills to pay and can't afford to also be responsible for maintaining it, so want to sell and split the proceeds. Brother is refusing to sell until he gets a job,  can't afford to buy me out, refused to discuss any other options and just wanted us to joint own the house with him still living in it. At the end of the last thread I was waiting to hear back from the solicitor who we wanted to administer the estate, and also my brother was apparently getting advice from his own solicitor. Edited to add - there is no executor, one of them is deceased, the other renounced after being harassed by my brother right after my dad died. 

There hasn't been much progress. Partly because I've had some other stuff going on I'm my life and partly because I am a wimp who is a bit scared of my brother's temper/anger issues and of how he will react if I "go legal". I never heard back from the solicitor who we were going to get to administer the will who I had asked for advice on what happens next if we can't agree. And my brother never told me what his solicitor advised. 

There have been some developments, which mean we do need to get things sorted.
  • Brother was struggling to pay the bills so we sold my dad's car and split the proceeds
  • When that money was running out he told me he was struggling again, I sympathised and he got annoyed that I hadn't offered to help him
  • He had further problems paying the bills so having spoken to the solicitor and been told he could do so, he got the money from my dad's bank accounts released, and split the proceeds between us.
  • He told me about some work which needs doing to the house which he can't afford to get done, but told me in a way which I think was trying to guilt me into saying I'd pay for it. I told him I can't afford it
  • The house insurers have said they won't insure the house next time it comes up for renewal because it's will in my dad's name. Brother contacted me in a panic asking what we do now.
I've said to him that as the house can't be reinsured at next renewal, he plainly can't afford the bills, and neither of us can afford essential repairs and maintenance that we really need to sell. He got angry and said that would leave him homeless (even though he'd have sale proceeds to be able to rent somewhere with. He won't have any landlord references but surely 12 months rent up might meant they aren't a essential? Or he could try a houseshare) . He then told me I'd never hear from him again because of what I am doing (which at the moment is nothing!). I've asked him what his suggestions are for a solution and he hasn't replied. 

So I need to do something. We can't own an uninsured house, he can't continue to live in a house he can't afford to run. From what I have read I think my first step needs to be getting a solicitor to send him a letter setting out my case for selling the property and giving him the chance to reply with the reasons that he doesn't want to. Then I think if he still refuses to sell after that, I can go to court to request to force the sale. My questions are:
  • Do we need to get Letters of administration before I can get a solicitor to send a letter?
  • Do we need to get Letters of administration before applying to a court for an order of sale? (I know it's needed before the house can be sold)
  • Is there a risk the court may refuse? I've found a couple of websites which say something like this "Remaining in the home is a legal right by the sibling living there at the time of inheritance, although now the other siblings too have a right to live there. A court exclusion order can enforce the removal of someone to leave the home however this is in severe cases, with compelling reasoning as to why that person needs to be removed. The wishes of other siblings to sell the home is not a reason acceptable by the court. Evidence would need to be provided to the court to prove serious incidents that warrants the removal of the individual from the property." which suggests that if a beneficiary is living in the house the court may well not force the sale just because I want to sell? Surely the fact that we can't afford to keep owning the house is an acceptable reason? As well as the fact that selling is the only way for me to get what the will says I should have
  • Having read back through the previous thread, there was a suggestion of getting my own solicitor to write to the administering solicitor stating that my considered wish is to have my 50% of the estate as set down in the will, and that to fulfil the terms of the will the house needs to be sold and the proceeds split, and that he needs to make this happen. Can I do this as an alternative to requesting an order for sale from a court? Would the administering solicitor sell when my brother hasn't agreed to do so? He had said he wouldn't act unless we agreed on what we want to do with the house.
Sorry for such a long post, I didn't want to miss anything important out. 

Thank you in advance for any advice

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Comments

  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 45,832
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    There's a will? So you need to get probate, rather than apply for letters of administration. It's a small point, but better to use the right terms. 

    I've just looked back at the previous thread (not all of it!). As neither of you are executors, then I'd suggest that it's up to the executor to make the decision, and tell your brother what's happening, which is that the house is going on the market. Via a solicitor, obviously. Also pointing out that it's in his own best interests to cooperate with the sale, and that he will have £Xk to enable him to find alternative accommodation.

    I don't think any solicitor can be blamed for refusing to act for you jointly until you agree on what to do, BUT I believe an independent executor CAN instruct a solicitor regardless of whether you and your brother agree with him or not.

    Selling the house could get difficult if he does not cooperate, but I don't see any alternative ... 

    Yes, you might need your own solicitor.  


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  • sevenhills
    sevenhills Posts: 5,806
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    It sounds to me that your brother might be better off in rented accommodation, with someone else maintaining the property. I haven't read the old thread, if your brother has difficulties, he may be better putting his name down for social housing, even if it takes more than a year.
    Is he capable of looking after his own affairs, could/should you be his guardian?
  • DepositSaver
    DepositSaver Posts: 239
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    I'm so sorry, I managed to miss the vital information that one of the executors of the will is deceased, and the other renounced after my brother harassed them right after my dad died about sorting the will ASAP, to the point it was making them ill. So we have no executor so will need someone to apply for letters of administration. It would be so much easier if we had an independent executor. 
  • msb1234
    msb1234 Posts: 510
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    Whilst I appreciate that the house is in effect 50% yours, it sounds like you and your brother live very different lives. Selling what is in effect his home will have a massively bigger impact on him than it will on you so clearly he’s not going to be cooperative about it. It sounds like once the house is sold he won’t have enough money to buy himself another property. So whilst you’ll be positively impacted in that you’ll end up with a wad of cash, he’ll be negatively affected in that he’ll lose his home. 
    If I were you, I’d be exploring all the options with your brother - will he have enough to buy a flat? If he’s on benefits, having more than £16k in savings will mean these stop so the money he receives from the sale will be used up even quicker. It’s both a financial, legal and moral dilemma. 
  • DepositSaver
    DepositSaver Posts: 239
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    It sounds to me that your brother might be better off in rented accommodation, with someone else maintaining the property. I haven't read the old thread, if your brother has difficulties, he may be better putting his name down for social housing, even if it takes more than a year.
    Is he capable of looking after his own affairs, could/should you be his guardian?
    Thank you. I've suggested to him several times that he'd be, better off renting somewhere. He mostly just ignores me, other than one occasion when he told me he wouldn't have any landlord references (having only ever lived with parents/a parent and now alone). He's never been willing to enter in to any discussion with me about renting.

    I don't know if he'd get anywhere applying to social housing? He is a single adult male with no dependents. He does have some mental health issues, but is perfectly capable of looking after his own affairs. He's been doing so since my dad died, and it's only lack of money due to being unemployed that is causing him problems. He probably doesn't know the practicalities of finding a place to rent, but that's because he's never done it before. 
  • DepositSaver
    DepositSaver Posts: 239
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    msb1234 said:
    Whilst I appreciate that the house is in effect 50% yours, it sounds like you and your brother live very different lives. Selling what is in effect his home will have a massively bigger impact on him than it will on you so clearly he’s not going to be cooperative about it. It sounds like once the house is sold he won’t have enough money to buy himself another property. So whilst you’ll be positively impacted in that you’ll end up with a wad of cash, he’ll be negatively affected in that he’ll lose his home. 
    If I were you, I’d be exploring all the options with your brother - will he have enough to buy a flat? If he’s on benefits, having more than £16k in savings will mean these stop so the money he receives from the sale will be used up even quicker. It’s both a financial, legal and moral dilemma. 
    You're right, we do live different lives, but that doesn't mean I can afford to just gift him my 50% of the house. I'm not rich, I have a mortgage I'll be paying until retirement, the money from the house wouldn't be to me a wad of cash, it would pay some of my mortgage off and mean fewer worries about future financial security.

    I appreciate it's his home, but he can't actually afford to be living there. He's struggling to pay the bills and can't afford essential repairs. Once the latest cash from my dad's accounts has gone I have no idea what he'll do, other than be unable to pay the bills and end up in debt. He won't have enough to be able to buy a flat, but he'd have enough to put down as 6 or 12 months rent in advance.

    He was sacked from his job because of his own actions, his behaviour towards other family members over many years has been awful and caused them to no longer be in contract with him. I'm the only relation who has still been talking to him (despite similar awful behaviour towards me which has continued since my dad died). He is now not taking to me so I can't actually discuss anything to do with the house with him. He has destroyed most of the sympathy I may have had for him. I've tried and tried to get him to discuss options but he has refused. 
  • Sea_Shell
    Sea_Shell Posts: 9,218
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    edited 13 February at 8:37AM
    I'm so sorry, I managed to miss the vital information that one of the executors of the will is deceased, and the other renounced after my brother harassed them right after my dad died about sorting the will ASAP, to the point it was making them ill. So we have no executor so will need someone to apply for letters of administration. It would be so much easier if we had an independent executor. 
    Sorry to hear what you are going through, and there aren't any easy solutions to this.    You can't afford to* write off your inheritance and he can't afford to live there, and is refusing to sell.   My sympathies.

    On the insurance front, I would have thought that someone somewhere WILL insure it, but at a price.  Have you tried asking a broker?    When does it expire?  How long have you got?

    However, at the moment without an executor (or administrator), I don't know who is able to arrange said insurance.   You both have an insurable interest in it as it stands, but are you yet (automatically) the legal owners?  

    AIUI, once someone applies to be the executor (administrator) then it would become their DUTY to ensure that the property IS insured, so this will need to be sorted at a priority, once someone steps up.

    As you have already accessed some of the estate funds, and distributed them, will this be deemed to have "intermeddled" already, and so do you need to apply and carry on now.


    * ETA - At the end of the day, you might have to.  For your own health and sanity.   What if Dad had left everything to the cats home?   You'd have to "make do" with what you have of your own.   It's not nice, but the battle might be too much.   Maybe walking away, it an option.
    How's it going, AKA, Nutwatch? - 12 month spends to date = 2.47% of current retirement "pot" (as at end February 2024)
  • DepositSaver
    DepositSaver Posts: 239
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    To add to the above, if I did decide to just let him stay and put the house in joint names, I can't actually afford the costs of owning half a house. I can't afford to be paying bills repair and maintenance of my own home, and in addition repairs and maintenance for the house my brother lives in. 
  • Sea_Shell
    Sea_Shell Posts: 9,218
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    see my edit. as i think we crossed post.
    How's it going, AKA, Nutwatch? - 12 month spends to date = 2.47% of current retirement "pot" (as at end February 2024)
  • Dymphna60
    Dymphna60 Posts: 196
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    You have my sympathy OP.
    I find myself in a similar situation having been effectively left my brother in my father’s will ! 

    I think variants of this happen all the time . 
    A very unfair situation.

    Brother lived with our dad almost all his life .Never had to act like an adult spoke and behaved to father like a stroppy entitled teenager would . 

    Reading back through your posts I can see your frustrations and how your sympathy erodes . Because it does . 

    Sometimes I have to remind my self that I didn’t create some huge childhood trauma for my brother as I am sure you didn’t to yours . 
    Any difficulties he has are not your fault .He is not a child you brought up or a spouse you chose . 

    Although it is 10 years since my father died there are circumstances that only now are we dealing with probate . 
    I anticipate a struggle when I say no not owing a house with him . 

    Can I ask  where you read that a joint sibling beneficiary
     can not usually be made to sell if they are living in the property?! 
    Don’t like the sound of that . 

    Also I don’t understand what you
    have engaged the solicitor for ? 
    Not to obtain letters of administration? 

    Would a larger percentage of the house sale no longer buy your brother somewhere to live because the other money /assets in the estate have now been spent ? As earlier you thought he could buy somewhere if you gave him more than 50 % . 
    This is the tack I am going to
    try 60/40 or 70/30 to get him out the house. 

    All the best going forward. 



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