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Cohabitation of Life Interest Property

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  • Cohabitation of Life Interest Property

    The situation involves my late mother's will, which specified a property held in life interest 5 years ago. Unfortunately, the life tenant, her widowed husband, has been cohabiting with a new woman, and has not been adhering to the terms outlined in the agreement.

    Over the past six months, I have diligently documented numerous instances where the life tenant's actions appear to be in violation of the spirit of the agreement. I have collected video evidence, photographs, DVLA registered keeper records of cars regularly parking at the property, and other relevant information related to the individual with whom the life tenant is cohabiting.

    Given that hiring a private investigator is financially prohibitive for me, I have taken it upon myself to gather evidence on my own over a 6 months period, devoting a significant amount of time and effort to this task. I have been collecting information two times a day, three to four days a week, between 6am and 11pm, to build a comprehensive case, documenting this diligently in dated and timed formats, backing up via emails to another party and in file storage.

    My goal is two-fold: Firstly, I am looking to understand if preparing a statutory declaration that can be presented to the courts, could force the sale of the property? This declaration would of course highlight all the instances where the life tenant has failed to adhere to the terms of the agreement, and provide my evidence to support these claims.

    Secondly, I am seeking guidance in communicating with the executors of the estate. I believe their involvement may be necessary to enforce the sale of the property held in life interest, but perhaps not? The life tenant is one executor, an estranged uncle is another.

    I understand a result will not be immediate, but perhaps based on my evidence you might think otherwise?

    It's important to note that the life tenant does not have any health complications that would prevent the sale of the property. Additionally, they are actively residing in and frequently visiting France for a considerable portion of the year, about 6 months. This is openly posted and documented via their social media account. The cohabitant is also living there while the life tenant is away which I have documented.

    I hope someone could help me understand how I can use this information to force a sale or if my understanding on how to approach this is correct? Any other advice surrounding the situation would be invaluable.

    Thank you
    Tags: None

  • #2
    What is your status in this? You are not an executor so how does it affect you? If it was sold are you a beneficiary of the will who would inherit some or all of the proceeds?

    You say the "spirit" of the agreement has not been complied with but it's not breaching the spirit that matters, it's breaching the written terms of the will. Do you have a copy of the will?

    I would expect it to be the Executors who would have the power to take action.
    All opinions expressed are based on my personal experience. I am not a lawyer and do not hold any legal qualifications.


    • #3
      You refer to the life tenant as your late mother's widowed husband. So is he your father?
      All opinions expressed are based on my personal experience. I am not a lawyer and do not hold any legal qualifications.


      • #4
        Hi Pallasathena

        This non cohabitation clause is set out in written terms of the Will. I do have a copy of the will is there something youd like me to check and let you know about?

        This person was my step father, not my real father.

        I am a beneficiary, so I would stand to inherit my share of the property to finally buy myself a home.

        The two executors are estranged, the one executor is the life tenant, the other an estranged uncle of mine for personal abusive reasons.


        • #5
          If you are satisfied that your step father has breached the written conditions of the life tenancy then typically the executors would have the power to end the life tenancy. That's what I have seen when I was executor for my mother and my stepfather had a life tenancy.

          The complication for you seems to be that neither of the executors is willing to act voluntarily to end the life tenancy. Your step father is hardly likely to evict himself. If your uncle is estranged from you he is probably not going to go out of his way to help you.

          I do not know the legal answer to what you can do as beneficiary. Whether you can go directly to a court yourself to end the life tenancy, or to force the executors to act.

          R0b or atticus
          All opinions expressed are based on my personal experience. I am not a lawyer and do not hold any legal qualifications.


          • #6
            If the property was put into trust until the life tenant dies, the trustees should be the new owners, not the life tenant. Owenjones as the future beneficiary may have been named as a trustee in the will. There is an article in thismoney.co.uk that explains a trustees duties in a life interest trust. The trustees should add their names to the deeds.


            • #7
              The life tenant has a legal duty not to dispose of the property, damage it, or do anything to it that will permanently devalue it. The trustees have a duty to ensure the property is looked after and if necessary may sue the life tenant for damages or take legal action to end the life tenancy.


              • #8
                Is there anyone who is a lawyer that can answer my query please?

                While I humbly appreciate the answers given by both of you Pezza54 and Pallasathena, this is information Im already aware of, that does help elaborate on my original query of proving cohabitation with evidence.



                • #9
                  I am a solicitor. You will need to consult one.
                  Lawyer (solicitor) - retired from practice, now in academia. I do not advise by PM.


                  • #10
                    I cannot afford one right now sadly Atticus, which is why Ive come her first.

                    Could you help me understand if preparing a statutory declaration that can be presented to the courts, with evidence of cohabitation the will outlines cannot be done, could force the sale of the property?


                    • #11
                      I have just read an example of a clause in a will that directs the trustees to sell the property for the benefit of the remaindermen if the life tenant remarries or cohabits with another person as if they were married.
                      In Owenjones mother's will who were named trustees? Hopefully not the executors. It would be similar to the police policing the police.


                      • #12
                        Court proceedings will be more complicated than the OP has suggested, particularly as she is not one of the trustees.

                        I am not sure whether court action would be under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act or on some other basis.
                        Lawyer (solicitor) - retired from practice, now in academia. I do not advise by PM.


                        • #13
                          Sorry, I am late to the party but I have limited knowledge on wills and trusts (a hated subject of mine) so I am not comfortable commenting on this and will defer to others who may have better knowledge and understanding.
                          If you have a question about the voluntary termination process, please read this guide first, as it should have all the answers you need. Please do not hijack another person's thread as I will not respond to you
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