DEAR MRS MACAULAY,
I am seeking advice for my nephew about his dad's property. His dad died leaving a house, and the woman his dad was in a relationship with (they weren't living together) rented the house and is now telling my nephew that she's paying for the house and when she's finished paying, the property title will be in her name.
What can my nephew do?
I am very grateful for your letter which raises novel issues. You have, however, not stated whether your nephew is a minor, or whether he is an adult. You have also not stated whether his father died testate, that is that he left a will; or whether he died intestate, and left no will.
You have also not explained who took control of the premises, or the basis on which this was done. You have not stated how the father's girlfriend gained entry into the premises and entered into a rental arrangement with tenants. You have also not stated whether any enquiries were made to ascertain the facts behind her statement that she is paying for the house.
You see, if the father left a will, then there would be at least one executor, or as is generally the case, two, who should have had the will probated and who must act according to the directions and gifts stated in it. The executor should also have made contact with the beneficiaries and read out and explain the contents of the will.
If the child was or is a minor, the father's death should have been reported to the Administrator General's office, so that it can take charge of the deceased's estate and protect the child's interest.
I must make some assumptions since you did not give me many relevant facts. I assume that your nephew is the only child for his father. I also assume that his father does not have a surviving widow. If the latter is true, then the only beneficiary to the estate would be your nephew, and as such he is entitled to ask questions and demand answers about his deceased father's estate.
If he obtains no answers and cannot identify who is dealing with the property, he could obtain the services of a lawyer, who may consider it advisable to take steps to get the woman into court to explain her occupation of the property.
Also, please bear in mind that even if she produces documents and they are not from someone who has the legal authority to probate his father's will, then this could be a scheme, and could well be a scam to disinherit him. Everything must be checked, including his father's purported signature, if a will is what they produce and say they acted on.
If he is a minor child, you should take him to the Administrator General's Department and help him report his father's death and what has been happening to and about the house. That office has the legal jurisdiction to act for all estates of deceased persons who died leaving minor children.
Even if he is an adult, he can go to the same office and ask them to deal with his father's estate on his behalf.
Your nephew must be proactive, and as I said, if he is under 18 years of age, you should assist him.
He should also get a certified copy of his father's death certificate from the Registrar General's Department. You should also assist him by asking this woman the questions which should have been asked of her before. For example, with whom does she have the agreement to buy the house, and to whom is she paying the monies? He must also ask to see the agreement(s) she has.
If he cannot get any satisfactory answers, then you and he should either go to the Administrator General's office and seek their assistance, or retain a lawyer privately and move forward to really find out what is going on. It may be that someone else may have to answer legally for what is happening.
Action should not be delayed. It is clear since it is you who wrote to me on your nephew's behalf, that whatever his age is, he needs your assistance. I hope you will give him the active assistance he clearly needs, so that answers can be obtained and his true circumstances vis-a-vis his father's estate can be ascertained and secured for him.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.