You and the Law – 27th September 2011

Son’s loan

Our son has loaned us quite a lot of money to buy our house.  How would we go about having his name put on the title deeds, since we want to make sure he will benefit from the property in the long run?  AB

This can be a sensible idea from the point of view of reducing inheritance-tax liability, or liability for care-home fees.  However, if your son already owns a property he would have to pay capital-gains tax on his share of your home if he came to sell it after your death.  And there could be a risk involved if he were to marry or encounter financial difficulties.  You can add a name to your title deeds simply by completing forms at the Land Registry, but I suggest you discuss the pros and cons with a solicitor first.  It may be better for your son to take a charge over the property to secure the amount you owe him.

Closing gate

There is a public footpath across the field at the back of my house, and I have a gate leading out on to the field.  The land has recently been sold to a developer, who is applying for outline planning permission to build some houses.  Will I still be able to use the gate? It has been in existence for about 15 years.  KP

Fifteen years isn’t long enough to acquire a right to cross someone else’s property, 20 years is usually regarded as a minimum, and only where there has been no interruption and no permission has been sought or denied.  If you put the gate in it doesn’t sound as though you have a legal right to use it, although there’s no harm in making representations to the council for continued access.  The position is different as regards the footpath. The developer will have to ask the local authority to apply to close or divert the path by an order made under statute.

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