Property Ownership Disputes
Disputes can arise in relation to ownership of property, especially in families, when agreements are often informal and may have been reached many years ago. The area of law that deals with these disputes is ‘trusts’.
The word ‘trust’ can make you think of ‘trust funds’ and millionaires with money to burn. In fact, trusts can arise in all sorts of situations that affect many of us – most commonly when we own a property or part of a property.
Put simply, in terms of property ownership In England and Wales, property is owned both legally and beneficially.
Property Ownership Explained
You can be the legal owner of a property, i.e. registered with the Land Registry, and also be entitled to the proceeds of sale of that property. You are the legal and beneficial owner of the property.
Or – you may be the legal owner of the property but not entitled to the proceeds of sale if it is sold. In that case, you are holding a property ‘on trust’ for someone else.
Or, you can have a beneficial interest in a property but not be the legal owner. This means that you are entitled to some or all of the proceeds of sale, but your name is not registered as the legal owner anywhere.
Disputes can arise when, for example, a parent puts money into an adult child’s property or vice versa and then they fall out or one of them dies.
If the case involves someone transferring their interest in a property to someone else, the legal argument may be about ‘undue influence’; should the transaction stand, or should it be set aside?
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