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Responsibilities/rights re. empty house & contents before CoP deputyship agreed

Discussion in 'Legal and financial issues' started by sadjane, Feb 23, 2017.

  1. sadjane

    sadjane Registered User

    Nov 3, 2016
    Best interests meeting held for Dad, he's to stay permanently in care home. His house is empty & full of all his things. The house will not need to be sold to pay fees, Dad has sufficient money to pay fees for foreseeable future. There is no POA, Dad wouldn't agree to do it. For various reasons which I won't go into, my brother & I do not wish to become CoP deputies. Instead we have asked Dad's solicitor to apply to the CoP to act as his property & affairs deputy. Assuming the solicitor agrees (currently waiting for their reply to our request) what are my & my brother's responsibilities & rights regarding Dad's house & contents during the months it will take waiting for the deputyship to be granted? We are paying for his garden to be done to try to keep the house looking lived-in and I go every week to check on it, but do we have any right, for instance, to remove possessions of sentimental value to us? Feeling overwhelmed by the emotional aspect of it all, never mind the legalities.
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    I can only advise you to ask the solicitor.
  3. arielsmelody

    arielsmelody Registered User

    Jul 16, 2015
    I think the short answer is that at the moment you don't have any rights at all over the house and contents but being practical you should keep an eye on things because if you don't, who will? If there are things of sentimental value, the danger is that the solicitor might arrange for the house to be cleared so I think you would be best off taking anything of no financial value like photo albums for safe keeping.

    Larger items are a bit of a grey area but most things won't have any real secondhand value - for my mum in law's house we arranged for family to take the bits of furniture they wanted, and paid something like £800 to a house clearance company to have the rest of the house cleared. We had an antiques dealer come round beforehand but he didn't find anything of value.
  4. Pickles53

    Pickles53 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    Radcliffe on Trent
    I would contact the insurance company also and seek their advice re house and contents. If the house should burn down or be burgled you would surely want your dad to be compensated by the insurance company?

    Take their advice about keeping the property secure in the interim.
  5. Malalie

    Malalie Registered User

    Sep 1, 2016
    I have no idea about your rights, but personally, I would remove anything of sentimental value (I'm presuming that we are not talking about Chippendale and Old Masters here...?)
    for safety reasons, and as Pickles says...they could disappear in a house clearance and end up in a skip.

    Make a note of what has been removed and who has it in their possession and then if there are any queries you are covered. I would also make notes about expenses you have paid for the upkeep of the house so you have all the information there when you query the solicitor about this.
  6. ossettbob

    ossettbob Registered User

    Jan 26, 2017
    All good advice. One thing you must do is inform insurance companies that the house is unoccupied & likely to remain so. Took me some time to sort SIL`s insurance. I also had to turn off gas & electric and drain the water system. if you go with new company, you need date of erection of house, date your father purchased it & value. There is a lot of small print for unoccupied insurance.
  7. Pickles53

    Pickles53 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    Radcliffe on Trent
    It will depend on the exact terms of the policy but my mum's insurance company allowed something like 2 or 3 months unoccupied provided that (a) someone checked the house was secure once a week and (b) the central heating was left on at a minimum level between the beginning of October and the end of March. It wasn't too difficult but agree you do need to check the details.
  8. Marcelle123

    Marcelle123 Registered User

    I am currently trying to sell my mother's house to pay for her care home. We just got the house insurance updated, on the understanding that someone would be staying in the house one night in thirty (one night per calendar month). Luckily my sister has just been down to stay so we have a month in hand - and the house is now under offer, so here's hoping. We could stay one night ourselves, if we had to. The alternative was that we would have had to turn off all the services and wouldn't have been insured against vandalism, windows broken etc.
  9. sadjane

    sadjane Registered User

    Nov 3, 2016
    Thank you all for your very helpful advice and experiences. I contacted the insurer today and basically only the house itself is now covered so we'll have to decide quickly how to handle the contents (no, no old masters thank goodness, but a lot of sentimental value).
  10. nitram

    nitram Registered User

    Apr 6, 2011
    North Manchester
    Ultimately whoever obtains a COP deputyship is going to have to decide what do do with the property in your dad's best financial interests, basically rent out or sell. If the deputy is a solicitor IMHO the decision would probably be to sell.

    I also think that a solicitor would arrange a house clearance prior to the sale, the firm doing the clearance would charge according to the amount of saleable and worthless contents. Worthless would be based on intrinsic value not the sentimental value to you. Personally, for safe keeping, I would remove all items of sentimental value with little or no intrinsic value and keep a list.

    You need to have a chat with you chosen solicitor, until they get the power they have no authority, as dad has other funds an interim order may not be possible.

    Talk about how (s)he would regard your continuing outgoings on insurance and basic external maintenance to make the property presentable none of which is your legal responsibility.
  11. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    Personally if there is no longer any contents insurance I'd box up and remove anything of value financial or sentimental. I'd photograph if, itemise it and have someone there to verify what was taken (a family friend possibly). Put everything into storage somewhere safe then when a decision is made do as directed.
    I was executor for my uncle's estate a few years ago and basically the solicitor we hired to do the job looked over the contents (I don't know if he took an expert with him or not), said there was nothing of any significant value and if we and the family could take anything of sentimental value or indeed anything we wanted he'd arrange a house clearance when we'd done. Second hand furniture, housed goods and things have very little value these days and many things of sentimental value have no other value at all on the open market.
    An estate agent told me about the "broken window" syndrome, basically a thief breaks a window in a house they suspect my be unoccupied and if it's still like this 24/48 hours later and nobody has done anything they know it's probably a safe bet it's unattended and break in.
  12. Leah3110

    Leah3110 Registered User

    Jul 10, 2016
    i found myself in a similar position last year when i learned that my aunt's brother in law had keys for the house and emptied it completely other than a few bits and pieces. i continuously requested to attend the property to obtain items of sentimental value like photos, trinkets, dancing certificates, medals etc but wasn't allowed. Once I was granted joint Deputy ship with him, I attended with the appointed house clearance company by which time it'd been cleared. I strongly recommend you take items be it for yourself or memory box for your family member as once it's all gone, there's no going back
  13. sadjane

    sadjane Registered User

    Nov 3, 2016
    Thanks everyone. We've removed all the photos, all personal info & papers and items of sentimental value. We've taken some to the ch to make Dad's room more homely. At the moment he's reasonably content to remain in the ch but asks constantly about his house and says he will be going home to it 'one day' so the sw says it's important to keep it for his peace of mind for the time being. We go every week to check it and will continue to look after the maintenance in the meantime & do our best to keep it looking lived-in. There's still practically a houseful of stuff left there but we're in legal no-man's-land until someone has CoP deputyship. Btw the solicitor has been useless, wasted three weeks and now made it clear in not so many words that she doesn't really wish to take on either the application or the deputyship - I guess it's not financially worth her while! Ho hum, what to do now - rethink whether I have the grit to take on the responsibility myself though very much against my will.

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