I inherited my dad’s house when he died

Charlie explains how she came to terms with losing her father and the pressures of inheriting a flat whilst at university.

True Stories

girl through window

"You never think your parents will die."

Losing a parent as a teenager is something that you refuse to believe will happen to you, so when, aged 19, I was told my dad had died, my world fell apart.

I can’t remember living with my dad, because my parents split when I was a baby. They stayed close, almost like best friends, but my dad was a bachelor at heart. He couldn’t give up the drink, drugs and football.

This lifestyle led to him having a triple heart bypass when I was four, but he carried on with his unhealthy habits. He was a great dad and he spoilt me rotten, but he didn’t know how to form a relationship with a little girl. That didn’t stop us making up for lost time when I was older. Even though I moved to another town I still saw my dad twice a month and spoke to him nearly every day, mainly to moan about my mum!

I loved having two separate families. On one side I was the spoilt only child and on the other I was able to grow up with siblings. It was great playing them off against each other, especially because my dad was a soft touch and my relationship with my mum was rocky.

Finding out

It was a sunny day in November and I was out shopping with my uni friends when my Grandma called. She said she couldn’t get hold of my dad, which was strange because he never had his phone off. Then my mum left a message saying she had something important to tell me, but my mum is so melodramatic and everything is important to her. It wasn’t until my granddad called that it clicked. I instantly knew that it was about my dad and I knew he had died.

The aftermath

The first emotion that I experienced after sadness was guilt. I’d spoken to him the night before and seen him the previous week, but his death left me wondering whether I’d done enough. All I kept thinking about was how I could have spent more time with him.

I was his only child, so I had always known that I was going to be the main beneficiary on the will. It was still a surprise when I found out I’d inherited his flat because I never thought it would happen so soon.

After sieving through endless amounts of paperwork I realised there was also £10,000 in his bank and three insurance policies. We went to a solicitor who agreed to sort out the finances. At this point I had to go back to university, so my Uncle said he would deal with it to take some of the pressure off me.

I wanted to rent the flat because it was the start of the recession and I knew it wouldn’t sell for much. I didn’t want to part with it and would have only wasted £70,000 if I sold it. I’d already got a mortgage with my boyfriend, so I thought renting would provide more security.

The next hurdle was the insurance. After months of negotiation, they refused to pay out on the grounds that my father had not disclosed his health problems on his application. I was devastated and thought I’d have to sell the flat. However, I wasn’t put off and decided to apply for a mortgage of my own. With this money I paid the outstanding amount and refurbished the flat. I found out my dad’s friend wanted to move in and everything came into place.

A year down the line and a tenant in the flat, the solicitor still hasn’t finalised everything. After chasing them up I received a bill for £9,000. I was completely shocked and asked to see a breakdown, but they refused.

Looking to the future

My mum provided lots of support when I discovered I’d inherited the flat. She’s helped me find an estate agent who deals with the management of the flat. Half the time I forget I have one because I have a separate account for the rent and mortgage that I try not to touch.

I’m just about to finish a journalism degree and my dad would be so proud. I’ll probably have to work for free in the future to secure a job, but the flat and inheritance has allowed me to do that and follow my dream. If my financial situation gets worse I have the option to sell the flat, but that’s a last resort.

Photo of girl through window by Shutterstock

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015