You and the Law – 23rd November 2010

Do we need to bother?

My husband and I jointly own a house worth about £150,000.00, jointly own a static caravan, have a joint bank account and some premium bonds each.  Do we need to make a Will?  AF

As things stand, the survivor would probably inherit everything under the
intestacy rules when one of you dies.  But what would happen to your property if you were both to die together in a car accident?

Under the same rules it may go to relatives you have never even met.
It’s the job of a solicitor to think the unthinkable, and you would probably
benefit from some advice along these lines.  Considering that what people own represents a lifetime’s effort, it’s hard to understand their reluctance to invest a comparatively small sum in drawing up a Will so that it’s distributed as they would wish on their death.

A smaller slice

When I was divorced 20 years ago my ex-wife was allowed to stay on in the house as long as she paid the mortgage instalments.  I reached 65 recently and assumed the mortgage would have been paid off by now, but I discover that she has only been paying the interest.  Are they allowed to continue this arrangement?

You will have to dig out the original court order to find out what was
intended.  I take it you have a stake in the equity in the property, in which case you will probably receive your share either when your wife dies or she sells the house.

I imagine the equity is considerably larger now than it was 20 years ago, so
the lender will probably be happy to have its loan repaid at the same time.
Your ex-wife wouldn’t necessarily have been expected to increase your share by paying off the mortgage.  But it’s difficult to advise without seeing the terms of the original court order.

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