Question: Mine and my brother’s parents died within a month of each other in December and January and neither of them left a will. They each owned 25 per cent of their home, with the other 50 per cent belonging to my brother. There are just us two siblings left in the family. The property is worth about £200,000, but that is the extent of the estate our parents left. There is no money as that all went on funeral bills. My brother says he will not buy out my share as he believes the property is now his. Can I force a sale? I would prefer we negotiate a solution, but he refuses to discuss it.
Answer: As your parents died intestate the chances are that you have half of their share of the property (a 25 per cent interest). Assuming the legal title is registered in your brother’s name, he will now hold the property as trustee for you and him. Your brother, as trustee, has all the powers of an absolute owner of the land, subject to his obligations as trustee.
If he refuses to sell the property and you want it sold, you can apply to the court for an order that it must be sold, and the proceeds of sale split in the appropriate shares.
The court does have to consider the intentions of the parties when the property was purchased and the trust established. If the purpose of the trust was to provide a home for your parents, that purpose has now come to an end. There will therefore be a presumption in favour of sale.
Do try to reach an agreement with your brother if possible, as that is always the best way. If he continues to refuse to buy you out or sell the property, seek advice from a solicitor about issuing a claim for an order for sale.