Solicitors Coles Miller are seeing a dramatic rise in the number of families living as three generations under one roof - there can be big financial pitfalls, they warn.
Extending the family home with a granny annexe is becoming increasingly common as care home bills outstrip pensions across the UK.
Moving elderly parents or in-laws into the family home may sound like a good way to avoid care expensive home bills. Getting granny to babysit can also cut the cost of childcare.
But few families realise the huge legal implications of moving relatives into their home.
All too often they forget to review their wills - with potentially serious consequences, warn Coles Miller’s will solicitors.
The legal risks can be particularly high if the elderly relatives moving in contribute to the cost of building an extension to the family home, possibly from the sale of their own property.
Coles Miller Associate Anthony Weber said: “Every month we see more cases of three generations living in the same property. There has been a huge increase compared with 10 years ago.”
It was vital for families considering a move like this to review their wills, he warned.
“It is possible to acquire a financial interest in someone else’s property even though your name is not on the title deeds,” he said.
All kinds of legal complexities can arise from family financial arrangements involving property.
They are often triggered by a death in the family. Disputes can arise over who paid what to whom, when and why.
“There can be arguments about whether a payment made was a loan, a gift or an investment. It can be very difficult to unravel things after someone has died,” said Mr Weber.
The administration of estates can be more difficult if any members of the family have been married more than once.
It raises worrying questions about what happens to the elderly relatives who have moved into a family home if they are predeceased by their children.
Stepchildren from a second marriage could inherit the family home, evict the elderly relatives and then sell the property to cash in.
“It is important to review your will. The act of marriage cancels out any previous wills. The second family could get everything and the first family could get nothing,” said Mr Weber.
Coles Miller’s wills, probate and trusts lawyers help families with a range of services involving estates and inheritances.
They help to simplify the process and can talk families through which Inheritance Tax planning options are best for their individual circumstances.
Other services provided by the firm include living wills and power of attorney, useful in safeguarding relatives who are losing the ability to take important decisions about their health and finances.
Coles Miller’s specialist power of attorney solicitors include members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and Solicitors for the Elderly.
The firm can also help with setting up and registering a charity in memory of a loved one.
Coles Miller has five offices throughout the Dorset area: two in Bournemouth, two in Poole and one in Wimborne.
For further information about wills, probate and trusts, please contact Coles Miller Solicitors Associate Anthony Weber, 01202 673011.