Do I have any rights over the house my sister bought cheaply from my parents?

Several years ago my sister bought my parents' house for £100,000 when it was in fact worth £200,000. Where I will stand when my parents pass away?

Question: Several years ago my sister bought my parents' house for £100,000 when it was in fact worth £200,000. I was not given the opportunity to buy the house with her and wonder where I will stand when my parents pass away? Will I have any rights over the house?

Answer: There are several possible scenarios, but your parents are still alive, so surely the best thing to do is to talk to them so that you can understand fully what happened when your sister bought the house. Do your parents still live there? Did your sister buy the property to help them out, perhaps because they needed some cash? It could be that your sister only bought a share in the property, and so owns it jointly with your parents as tenants in common. There could be a declaration of trust explaining the shares they each own in the property, stipulating who is responsible for maintenance, insurance and other outgoings, and how the house is to be valued if one party wishes to sell.

If your sister bought the whole property and it is registered in her sole name, perhaps she granted your parents a life interest in the house, which means they are entitled to stay there until they die. It appears that your sister did not pay the full price for the property, and so your parents could have gifted part of it to her.

Do your parents have a Will? If they do still own part of the property as tenants in common with your sister, they could bequeath their share, or part of their share, to you.

Your parents may have other assets which they may have bequeathed to you in their Will to make up for any gift they have previously made to your sister.

Do remember that you can obtain a copy of the register of title to the house from the Land Registry which will confirm the registered proprietor — and whether there is more than one, if they own the property as tenants in common. The register of title will not, however, reveal the details of any trust.

I have presumed that your parents had mental capacity when your sister bought the house from them, and that you are not suggesting she exercised any form of duress over them. If you think she may have done so, you need to seek legal advice.

Remember, your parents can do whatever they like with their assets and just because you are their son or daughter, you are not automatically entitled to any of their assets or estate.


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