Mr A died having been separated from his wife Mrs B. They owned a property together which was severed prior to his death. In his will he left his share of the property to our client to hold on trust for Mr A’s son.
Situation is a little difficult as Mrs B is son’s mother and being the owner of the other share of the house, which she lives in with son, doesn’t see why we have any involvement.
We initially asked her to agree to a transfer of the property into joint names with my client as the trustee but she is refusing.
We are entitled to the equitable title but would that be sufficient for a court to order the transfer of the legal title to us as trustees.
If so what is the process and if not what other options are available?
Graham & Rosen
I had a similar situation and registered the death certificate at the land registry and a Form N restriction in favour of the trustees.
As no-one else seems to have responded, I would venture the following, based on my understanding from Paul’s post.
Mrs B is now the surviving trustee of land, and so the sole person entitled to the legal title of the property. Unless you feel any of the other provisions of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act apply, Mrs B is perfectly entitled to continue as sole trustee, or appoint anyone else of her choice to be her co-trustee.
Paul’s client may be trustee of the will trusts, but needs to understand that he/she [albeit as will trustee] is just a beneficiary of the trust of land.
Thank you both. Do you think there is a chance that the court would enforce a transfer given the situation and conflict? Or is it just a case of placing the restriction?
Graham & Rosen
Presumably as the deceased is still named on the title deeds as a registered owner you may be able to enter a Form RQ where you will be sent an alert if there is proposed sale activity. This is a new restriction available since I last had this scenario. It may be worth a call to the land registry or any conveyancers as to whether the prs would have locus standi to register and then you wouldn’t have to worry that she could appoint someone as co-trustee and act in a way that could be a potential breach of trust. Mullenky is correct in his surmise but also assuming that she would act honourably and not defraud her son but a fancy man/con man type could be very persuasive to a vulnerable widow or she may feel she is entitled to it all - who knows? Unfortunately we have to think the worst of human nature and act to protect our own client’s interest, in this case, the son.
So far as Claire’s last post is concerned, if anyone has produced the death certificate to the land registry then the deceased should no longer be registered - the title document would simply show the [surviving] legal owner ie Mrs B.
I have no idea what a “Form RQ” may be, but Paul’s client could apply for a “Property Alert” from the land registry which I suspect would be of similar effect albeit limited to a maximum of 10 properties [so probably not ideal for Paul himself] provided that the client would act on any alert received.
However, Claire assumes we should consider “the worst of human nature” whilst Paul gives little detail of the case and I think it would be perfectly normal for Mrs B to react as stated in the circumstances described. Clearly this depends on the detailed situation, including the personal identity [and attitude] of the trustee, the age of the son, the vesting age, and what other provisions are included in the will, eg to provide a fund to pay for maintenance/repairs/improvements to the property, and/or maintenance for the son [per IPFDA] as well as the identity of the residuary legatee.
Perhaps Paul and his client with [presumably] greater details of the estate assets, and the will file, can now consider what should be an equitable balance of the estate, and then discuss this with Mrs B without demanding what probably seem [and are] pointless legal aspects.