Professional advice is always necessary when entering into important transactions and one case clearly revealed the serious consequences of failing to seek it. An elderly couple’s transfer of their home to their son was undone by a judge because they had not obtained an independent valuation before going through with the deal.
The son had paid his parents £150,000 for their London home before they moved into residential care abroad. The value of the property had since risen to over £1 million and, following the couple’s death, their daughter disputed the validity of the transfer. She accused her brother of putting their parents under pressure and bundling them out of the country so that he could take over their property.
A judge rejected those allegations as vicious and fanciful. They had been motivated by the sister’s greed and were a product of her overly fertile imagination. There had been no wrongdoing on her brother’s part. However, the judge noted that the son had not covered himself in glory as he had failed to advise his parents to obtain a professional valuation of the property prior to the transaction.
The couple had placed trust and confidence in him and, given the closeness of their relationship, there was a presumption that they had acted under his undue influence. There was evidence that the property was worth over £220,000 at the time of the transfer. In those circumstances, the judge declared the transaction void. That meant that the property fell into the couple’s estate and stood to be divided equally between the brother and sister.