Aimee Hutchinson, a solicitor at Blacks Solicitors LLP, and Richard Hand, senior legal advisor at the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) examine the main differences and areas of importance for park home owners when it comes to inheritance
It is common for site owners, park home owners and those who may be entrusted with the administration of an estate after a park home owner has passed away, to be unaware of the rules that apply in relation to who can rightfully inherit a Written Statement (or pitch agreement). There also tends to be confusion surrounding the circumstances where a resident can gift their park home. This article looks at the differences between inheriting and gifting a park home and considers common examples.
Inheritance of a written statement
Inheritance depends upon who was living with the park home owner at the time of death. Section 3 of the Mobile Homes Act 1983 (“the Act”) sets out the hierarchy of potential beneficiaries, but inheritance of a Written Statement is subject to the park home being occupied by the park home owner (prior to their death) as their main or only residence.
It will assist to explore a number of scenarios to demonstrate these inheritance rights.
By way of example, meet our fictitious pair ‘James and Joan’ – they are married and lived together in a park home. Sadly, James recently died. Before his demise, he left the park home to Joan in his will.
Who will inherit the written statement?
Joan will inherit the Written Statement (and as a result the right to reside in the park home) as she was married and living with James at the time of his death.
That inheritance of the park home means that Joan is now responsible for the obligations in the Written Statement such as maintaining the park home and payment of the pitch fee.
In the above scenario Joan will inherit the Written Statement as a result of section 3 of the Act which states that a widow or widower, or civil partner, living with the deceased in the park home at the time of death will inherit the Written Statement. This means that Joan is entitled to remain in occupation, but is now responsible for the obligations in the Written Statement such as maintaining the park home and payment of the pitch fee.
If James was not married at the time of his death, will joan still inherit the written statement?
Joan may still be entitled to inherit the Written Statement even if she was not married to James at the time of his death. This is because she could be classed as a ‘member of the deceased’s family’ (as per section 5 of the Act) if she was living with James as ‘husband and wife’ prior to his death. Thus, if they were cohabiting as opposed to merely living together as friends, this will be sufficient to enable Joan to inherit the Written Statement. A number of other relatives may also qualify as a ‘member of the deceased’s family’ (as per section 5 of the Act).
They include parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece. Please note that any relation by marriage or of half-blood counts as a full relation as well as stepchildren and an ‘illegitimate person’.
By way of further example, Michael, a person living alone in a mobile home, has died. He has made a Will leaving all his estate to his brother.
If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact LEASE’s telephone advice line on 020 7832 2525. Alternatively, you can contact Aimee Hutchinson, a solicitor in the Holiday and Home Parks Team at Blacks Solicitors LLP, on 0113 2279 203 or on email at AHutchinson@LawBlacks.com.
Read the full story in the July 2019 issue of Park Home & Holiday Caravan