In 2008 I applied for a bond and did not qualify. I then approached my brother to assist me by applying for a joint bond so that I can secure the home. The bond was approved and our verbal agreement was that I pay everything (bond repayments, water and electricity, renovations, in fact everything) and then the house is mine. The thing is that it was a mutual, verbal agreement; we did not have anything in writing.
He got married in community of property in 2014 and unfortunately passed away in 2015. There was a life insurance policy and the house is now paid up. The problem is that his wife now wants the house to be sold for her to get half of the money or I must buy her out.
My question is: If I contest this issue do I stand any chance to win the case and have the property transferred to my name alone as I paid for it?
Hi Ernest, unfortunately the law is not on your side in this matter. When applying for a joint bond the applicants are equally responsible for the repayment of that debt, and are jointly entitled to the rights to the property regardless of how they decide to split that financial arrangement between themselves. The property was registered in both your and your brother’s name as co-owners, notwithstanding the fact that you paid all the expenses relating to the property.
Upon your brother’s marriage in community of property, his wife automatically became co-owner of her husband’s half-share in the property by virtue of her marriage. Since your brother died without a will, the law of intestate succession will determine how his estate will be divided. Where he is survived by only his wife, she inherits the whole of his estate, 50% thereof due to her marriage in community of property to the deceased and 50% thereof due to intestate succession. If he was survived by his wife, as well as children, the children also become entitled to share in his estate.
On assumption that he was survived only by his wife, she became the owner of the entire half share of the property that you bought with your brother. As such, she is entitled to do with her half as she pleases and can in fact sell her half share to whomever she chooses. It is unfortunate that family ties often mean nothing in situations such as these. Your chances of success in a litigation matter are very slim.
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Who is Sonja du Toit?
Sonja du Toit is a director at MC van der Berg Incorporated