Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Do I need a lawyer?

Published:Sunday | February 22, 2015 | 2:00 AM
Craig Francis
Walcott
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Good day, readers! This week, the Registrar of Titles, Cheriese Walcott, will answer some questions asked by our readers.

Mr Francis,

I write on behalf of my father, who seems to be having a strained relationship with the executor of his father's (my grandfather) will and testament. The strained relationship centres around a piece of land (almost an acre) that was granted to two brothers, one being my father. My father built his house on his half of the property, while the remaining half remained with his brother.

In 1965, my father's brother travelled abroad and settled. He visited the island a few times and, in 1985, he sold my father his half of the property. My father's brother has since died abroad.

The executor of the property has been maintaining that the selling of the other half of the land to my father is null and void because the land was sold to my father before the will was probated. As a result, my father has been discouraged by the executor not to survey the whole property and apply for a title.

Each time my father visits the land agency, they inform him that the executor has to sign a section of a form handed to my father by the agency. The executor has refused and is adamant that there is no way he will put his signature on the form. As a result, my father does not really know what to do.

What can I do to assist my ageing father?

An executor has a fiduciary duty to properly administer an estate in accordance with the deceased's will. If the property is registered, then the executor must be registered on transmission and then execute a transfer to the beneficiaries. However, if the estate is indebted, the executor must settle all debts prior to distributing the estate.

In this instance, where the executor is refusing transfer of the property, the beneficiary must proceed to court to compel the executor to complete the estate.

Question: I'm in the process of buying a piece of land; however, I'm unable to afford an attorney-at-law to carry out the transaction. What would be your recommendation to someone like me?

- M.B

 

This is a commonly asked question, and I will attempt guide you in the best way possible. Attempting to handle legal matters, for example, sale of land, without proper legal advice and guidance, may lead to problems. The cost of resolving these problems may be far greater than the legal fees would have been to complete the sale. I advise that the individual retain legal counsel. You may visit the Kingston Legal Aid Clinic to see if they would be able to assist. But I do not recommend that you attempt this transaction on your own.

Keep sending your questions and comments, and let's continue to explore A Matter Land. Until next time, traverse well.

n Craig Francis is a commissioned land surveyor and managing director of Precision Surveying Services Ltd. He can be contacted for questions or queries at craig_r_francis@yahoo.com or his Facebook page, Precision Surveying Services.