TOLATA and will disputes: an overview of the law
We specialise in in TOLATA and will disputes, dealing with cases throughout England and Wales. This is a brief overview of the legal position governing these types of claim.
TOLATA, the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act, regulates disputes over property ownership.
The Act gives the courts wide powers. They can make an order for sale, rule whether a trustee or beneficiary should be entitled to purchase a property, and determine whether someone has the right to occupy a family home.
TOLATA can often be used when the terms of a will are being contested, even if the will itself is legally valid.
So for example, if someone contributes money to buy a property but their name is not on the title deeds, and that property is then left to a third party in a will, they can challenge the gift in the will using TOLATA.
TOLATA can also be relied upon where there is an understanding that someone will benefit from shared ownership but that agreement has not been honoured in the will. The court will take into account any financial contributions that have been made, such as mortgage payments, household bills and payments for repairs and renovations. The court can also order the owner to hold the property on trust for you.
Where a promise has been made by a person who has died and someone has acted upon that promise to their detriment, then TOLATA can be used alongside a claim for proprietary estoppel if the deceased’s will fails to make provision for them by recognising the promise that had been made.
Finally, will disputes can sometimes involve a party remaining in occupation of a property owned by the estate. This can raise questions about whether they should pay for the benefit they have received in occupying the property. Such payments are known as an occupation rent, and TOLATA can be used to resolve these disputes.