Question: My father lives in a house which is still registered in my late grandfather’s name. Dad contributed all the money towards the purchase of the property. My grandfather did not leave a will. Dad would now like to transfer the house into his own name and those of his children. He was the only son but he has four sisters. How do we do this?
Answer: Because your grandfather left no will, his property and other assets, known as his estate, should be shared out according to the rules of intestacy. If at the date of his death he was not married and had no civil partner, his estate will be shared equally between his children — in this case between your father and his four sisters.
It is possible to rearrange the distribution of the estate when someone dies intestate by making a deed of family arrangement/variation. This has to be done within two years of death and everyone aged 18 or over and entitled to share in the estate under the intestacy rules must agree to the variation. The administrators of the estate will also need to sign the deed.
If your grandfather died less than two years ago, your father has time to ask his sisters to enter into such a deed. As he paid for the property and it is his home, they may very well agree to his request, in which case the deed could be drawn up reflecting their wishes, so that your father and his children inherit the property.
A document transferring the house from your grandfather’s name into your father’s name and those of his children will also be needed. Your father should seek legal advice.
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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a partner in the residential property, farms and estates team at Withy King LLP (www.withyking.co.uk).
These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.