Help with Property Ownership Problems
The cost of social care, family disagreements, or inheritance problems could put your property at risk
Your property is your most valuable asset, not just in financial terms.
We are often asked to help clients with problems relating to property ownership. Scroll down to find out how we can help or keep on reading if you want to know more about property ownership problems.
Property Ownership Problems
Property owners have legal rights and responsibilities but they’re not always easy to recognise. Owning a property jointly can lead to some complex situations, especially if the property is owned by several individuals.
People who own their properties jointly are affected by special legal rules, about:
- who can inherit the property
- who has the right to sell or mortgage it
- what happens when someone has to move into residential care
- who has to pay tax on it
Couples usually buy their homes jointly but they don’t always supply the purchase money equally. If this isn’t properly recorded they could find they are wrongly assessed for social care funding or their relatives might lose out when an owner dies.
Property Ownership and Tenants in Common
Many people are aware they can own their property jointly as tenants in common but they don’t know whether they should or what else they need to do to really achieve the outcome they want.
Some families get together to buy a property they can all share as one household. If they disagree later on it can be difficult to get out of the arrangement unless their individual rights have been protected.
Failing to find out about property rights and responsibilities or ignoring them can lead to expensive and upsetting mistakes.
Property Ownership and Social Care
Many people worry their property will have to be sold to pay for their care. It’s true that the way in which you own your property could have a major impact on whether you qualify for social care funding. Some financial assessments are carried out incorrectly because there’s not enough documentation to show the true property ownership picture. The good news is you can prevent property ownership problems relating to social care by getting the right advice and taking effective action.
It’s not just families who can experience property problems. Many businesses are run from premises that are owned by one individual business owner. Take the example of a small or medium size business. Perhaps a sole trader originally purchased the business premises and still own them in their sole name. The business grows and a company is formed with others. If the property owner dies or loses mental capacity or there is a family dispute, the business premises could be at risk leading to serious problems for the company. Those problems could affect the future of the business and the people who work in it.
Here’s how we can help business owners
We can work with business owners to protect the investment in their property and find a balance between the need of their family and the company.
Trustees are often involved in property ownership issues. Trustees hold the legal title of trust property on behalf of the beneficiaries of the trust. The trustees are responsible for the property and anything that happens to it. Trustees may have to rent the property out to produce income for the beneficiaries. That means they become landlords with all of the legal implications of that role. Trustees are usually responsible for insuring and maintaining trust property. If the property is damaged or occupied by people who set up a cannabis farm or sublet it to multiple occupiers the trustees are liable.
Here’s how we can help trustees
Trustees have special legal responsibilities and can be financially liable if things go wrong. We can help trustees to understand their responsibilities and put safeguards in place to protect them and protect the trust property.
Don’t rely on estate agents or conveyancers to tell you the risks
It’s important to consider what will happen to your property if you should die or become mentally or physically unable to manage it and how the property is to be protected if you should find yourself in relationship, business or financial difficulties or at risk of criminal prosecution.
Information and advice about things like inheritance rights and legal responsibilities of owning property will not usually be supplied by estate agents, mortgage advisers, banks or even conveyancers. It’s a specialist area of the law. Members of Solicitors For The Elderly are lawyers trained to advise on these issues.
Here’s what we do…
- Advise on social care funding rules and property ownership;
- Advise trustees and appointed LPA Attorneys and Deputies appointed by the Court of Protection;
- Challenge incorrect financial and health assessments for people needing care;
- Help people who have high-level care needs explore NHS Continuing Healthcare or Social Services funding options;
- Prepare Wills and trust documents to avoid problems in making a gift or providing for vulnerable relatives;
- Advise on jointly owned property and inheritance issues;
- Help to change from joint tenants in equity to joint tenants in common.