Sunday Times Question of Money with Niamh Moran
Our partner, Niamh Moran, recently contributed to the Sunday Times Question of Money section. The full article is re-printed here. This reader’s query raised important matters arising post the ‘administration of an Estate’ and the issues that can arise from shared property left under a Will to wide circle of family members.
There are lots of issues raised here in this query, such as dealing with property left under a Will, shared property ownership amongst family members and the issues that can arise after probate with regard to day to day issues such as insurance, and the sale of a ‘probate property’, as well hinting at the underlying issues that can give rise to a probate dispute.
Often seemingly straight forward Will bequests can be complex matters, the answer shows the benefit of expert probate legal advice in relation to Wills and Probate matters and how endeavouring to resolve disputes before they emerge or at the earliest opportunity can be considered. When preparing your Will or when guiding executors when administering Estates and working on probate matters, the expert probate legal team at Carmody Moran Solicitors will be on hand to offer practical common sense advice and strategy in terms of future considerations as you advance so that matters can be dealt with by executors as stress free as possible. If you are a beneficiary under a Will our expert probate Solicitors will be on hand to guide and advise you as you assess your options if there is a potential probate dispute or will dispute emerging. The expert Wills, Probate, and Probate dispute solicitors at Carmody Moran solicitors aim to bring clarity to every situation as well as expert legal advice and early resolution of probate disputes and probate property disputes.
My wife’s father made a will in which all his assets were divided equally among his eight children. Each child had an eighth share as tenant in common of the family home. Two of my wife’s unmarried siblings have continued to reside in the property since then (12 years).
Three siblings have died, two of whom (umarried) left their shared to other family members. The third left her estate to be divided equally among her three daughters.
Has each of her nieces got the same rights to the property as my wife?
Can any owner prevent the property from being sold?
As far as we can gather, one of the siblings residing in the property has insured it under his own name. Does this policy indemnify my wife?
As the remaining members are in their seventies, there seems little chance of my wife getting value for her share. Also, can the value of her shareholding (about €34,000) be used in determining her means for a medical card?
All too often the practical implications of joint property ownership may not be fully appreciated when property is being left in a will. What may have seemed fair to all children can lead to difficulties due to disagreements amongst siblings.
The tenant in common division means that the ownership of one property is divided into one-eighth shares. As each person owned a divided share, when they died that share passed with their estate. That means potential further division of the ownership – as in your case where one family of the next generation has three daughters, each holding a single 24th share.
There are no hard and fast rules governing such ownerships. It is essential that each person considers how they wish to deal with their share, and at a minimum, address it in their will. The increasing pool of owners becomes unattractive as time passes as it rarely gives rise to anything other than discontent – and dispute – unless there is strong consensus.
A sale can be problematic when all owners are not in agreement. One or more can apply for a court order to force the sale. This can be opposed by the other owners, which can lead to expensive court proceedings. There is no guarantee the order would be granted; if not, it leaves everyone back at square one, but with legal bills and even more soured relations. Clearly, the more owners seeking to sell the greater the chance of success. It would be worth looking at mediation or a family conference with a view to reviewing whether any owners wish to sell their share, and/or reaching a formal co-ownership agreement.
The insurance question is a double-edged sword. It could be argued that if this sibling were living in the house without insurance, the other owners would be in a worse position. But you need to review the policy to see the exact wording.
Medical card applications are means-assessed. But income from savings, investments or property of €36,000 for a single person or €72,000 for a couple is disregarded. All the applicant’s assets would be taken into account, including, I presume, the share in the property.
Our offices at 27-28 Mount Street Upper, Dublin 2, are located just off Merrion Square, ideally located for many of our clients who have Estate or Will issues., Talk to Niamh Moran direct at 01 8272888, email [email protected] , or check out the inheritance section of our website www.carmodymoran.ie for more information.
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Niamh Moran is a partner at Carmody Moran Solicitors in Dublin. Niamh’s litigation experience includes injury claims law (both Plaintiff and Defendant) and is an Advisory Board Member of the State Claims Agency.