Looking a gift house in the mouth
As house prices rise and younger generations find it harder and harder to get on the property ladder, it becomes more and more common for them to ask family and friends to help out with the deposit or even some of the purchase price.
Sometimes that might be in the form of a loan, with the full expectation that it will be repaid at some time.
However, sometimes a generous person might make a gift to you to help you on your way, and you may think that all you have to do is thank them profusely and remember to send them a birthday card every year.
In many situations that is all you’d need to do, but every now and then a situation might arise where you wish you’d taken legal advice before you’d accepted the gift, as even the most innocent of presents can come with unexpected consequences.
You might assume I’m talking about tax, but actually I’m thinking in terms of what might happen if a member of your generous benefactor’s family later objected to the gift, perhaps alleging that you unduly influenced the person into giving the gift, or that by receiving the gift you had deprived others (such as creditors) of funds that were due to them. In an extreme situation, if you couldn’t repay the money, you might end up having to sell your property.
But help is at hand. If you are receiving such a gift, all you need to do is ask your conveyancing solicitor if the person making the donation to your funds should receive independent legal advice before committing themselves. Your solicitor can take a view depending on all the factors, such as the size of the gift relative to the purchase price of the property, the relationship between you and the person making the gift and their age. There is obviously a huge difference between your parents gifting you £5,000 and an elderly neighbour that you do the shopping for gifting you £50,000. The former is highly unlikely to raise any eyebrows, but the latter could easily come under scrutiny by the neighbour’s family, but you can be protected from such scrutiny if an independent solicitor has met the neighbour and confirmed that they fully understand what they are doing and are not expecting the money back or anything in return.
Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. Helping you read between the lines!