The risks inherent in giving away assets prematurely were illustrated in a recent case, which involved a 76-year-old disabled woman and her son.

In 2012, the woman gave her son and his wife the property she lived in, together with other properties worth in total more than £1 million. This followed a reconciliation between them after a period of frosty relations.

However, relations deteriorated again and the woman went to court to recover the title to the properties, claiming that transferring ownership to her son and his wife was ‘an accident’ because she did not realise the legal effect of her actions.

She claimed that she had signed the documents transferring the legal title to the properties only because the deeds to them had been lost and she thought it was necessary in order for the title to be registered.

Finding that the woman’s physical impairment was not matched by any mental impairment, Judge Andrew Simmonds found that she had been competent to make the transfers and that her claim was ‘confused, inconsistent and implausible’.

The net result is that she now also faces legal costs estimated to be in the region of £200,000.


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