Areas of Law / Wills and Probate

My wife was given the deeds to her elderly mother’s house several years ago because her mother wanted her to have the house when she died. However she died recently without making a will. Does my wife’s brother have a claim on the property?

Unless the house was actually transferred into your wife’s name the fact that the deeds were in her possession probably won’t amount to anything. Contracts to transfer land must generally be in writing, although it’s just possible that a court would take a sympathetic view depending on the circumstances. Otherwise, assuming your mother-in-law was the sole owner, the house will now form part of her estate. If she didn’t make a will it will be divided according to intestacy laws, which means that your wife, her brother and any other surviving children will receive an equal share.

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