Being left out of a will, feeling blue and confused(235 Posts)
Our mother died some months ago and it appears there was a change to the will a couple of months before she died, leaving around 98% of the estate (£300k) to my brother and his child with my children and I receiving just a few thousand. Previously the wills of both our parents and then my mother left it 50/50 to my brother and me.
I'll be honest and say that since the somewhat unexpected death of our mother, there have been occasions when the mind has wandered down the road of thinking what we would do with any inheritance. I certainly have not been mentally allocating it for things but rather like a daydream about how you would spend a reasonable but not jackpot lottery win, things like private schooling, perhaps a larger house and so forth.
My brother was initially very communicative but then changed and now doesn't want to discuss it, simply pointing me in the direction of the solicitors. I obtained a copy of the will only after searching the Probate Registry as neither he nor the solicitor would give me a copy.
It had always been an equal split, even before any wills were written but I didn't really consider what would happen because I enjoyed my parents being alive. Reading the will the other day made me feel sick, like I have not felt since I cannot remember when. I feel somehow less loved, second rate, if that makes sense ?
Aside from the mismatch, it worries me that this change, via a codicil, is full of typing errors, spelling and grammatical mistakes and is simply printed on blank A4 paper. All the other wills and codicils were written by the solicitor.
Perhaps because I feel this way I have come to thinking that perhaps this codicil is not real or worse, has been concocted. It appears signed with a reasonable signature (not the clearest photocopy) but the witnesses were just people down the street. I do not even know if this was ever given over to the solicitor but I somehow doubt it as there is no sign of a receipt stamp, which it would surely have.
Do I feel cheated ? yes, in a way. I didn't think this situation would arise for at least another decade but I also always assumed everything was as it had been discussed.
I can't think how the family could be mended after this. If my brother takes it all then it will leave a bitter pill and yes, some pangs of jealousy, which I know to be bad but I can't deny it. I certainly don't feel like going cap in hand. Yet if the feelings surrounding this strange codicil do not diminish, am I prepared to take it further and ask my own solicitor to investigate ? I simply do not know.
I think I could have taken it, albeit it with a little disappointment, if my mother had said she wanted to leave everything to my brother but this seems totally out of character. Even sidestepping the inheritance percentages, I "know" my mother would not make up this codicil at home, she was far too particular to leave anything like that to chance and I cannot envisage her signing something so full of errors, she being a school teacher after all. She certainly could not have made it herself as she didn't know how to type and didn't have a computer or printer.
Sorry for the long post but I don't really know where to turn as my brother has seemingly cut me out of his life. Yet if it has been done without my mother's knowledge or intention, the repercussions would be terrible.
How do I get over this and get back to feeling how I did before ?
Thanks again for all the great wishes and support, it is really comforting.
I can't stop the estate being distributed as it already has been. However, the suspicious additions to the codicil actually include a clause to not inform me, which is completely self serving. However, we have asked them to put all distributions into an account to be administered by the court and have given them 14 days to comply.
I want to develop an argument against his solicitor as well. Apparently they had paperwork from my mother where she asked for me to be contacted and where she clarified her original will was valid and that she had no intention to change it ! Their actions now look at best incompetent and at worst downright suspicious. Perhaps time for their insurers to be put on notice.
As to the police, I agree with others that fraud is a crime and as such, investigation is a job for the police. However, there are complications using this route. Firstly, the police seem to like to follow civil proceedings rather than be pro active. Of course, that makes their life easy but I am trying to find someone in the police who might be on my side so to speak. The other thing is that once you give it over to the police, you lose control. Any evidence they obtain may not be made available to you and if their investigation or prosecution fails, you are in OJ Simpson land, knowing they are guilty but having to overturn a criminal acquittal in a civil court. You also lose the threat of involving the police, which is where I think we go next.
I tend to think that shortly we'll have enough to hang them but whether we can afford to proceed I do not know. We will find enough eventually but it will be hard. I just hope that even if he has been terribly stupid, the prospect of an exit route will bring him to his senses, though I feel he may dig his heels in and see the whole estate squandered rather than split fairly. I am trying to find a legal argument to stop that happening but ....
As ever, all comments welcome. I did message someone but if people can help with external resources, such as forensic specialists then do just post up or send me a message.
You need a solicitor specialising in contentious probate. It sounds very likely that the codicil is not valid on any one of a number of grounds - undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity or improper execution to name but three.
If you are in the Lincs/Notts/South Yorks area I can put you in touch with at least 3 solicitors who deal in this type of work.
By the way the executors cannot distribute the estate until 6 months after the grant of probate to allow time for any claims to be made against the estate. F they do distribute and your claim is successful then the executors are liable to reimburse you personally.
You make good points about the disadvantages of using the police, particularly as you have already instigated civil proceedings. However, I would recommend ringing you local police force non emergency number during office hours and asking to be put through to their economic crime unit (or equivalent) and sounding them out about it. If the will has been changed without your mothers consent it is obviously fraud but they should be able to guide you about how their investigation would run alongside your current proceedings.
The point that I'm not sure I made was if you spoke to them in this way, you may be able to receive advice from the police without having to officially report it. You can then decide how you want to play it.
I cannot help but I remember you posting this and wondered if anything had happened.
Good luck and keep on pushing this as it's so wrong.
If you give them a call, they will be able to give you your nearest specialist. Scotland has their own society if you google.
Another thought, apologies if you've already done this. If you write to the Law Society explaining the main points of the case and that you think the solicitor is either inept or in collusion with your brother. The Law Society may themselves investigate.
All solicitors have to pay a fee (Eng & Wales) to be a member. If a member is found guilty of a criminal act ie fraud then the Law Society will compensate you.
Yes I would agree with Imperial & get the police involved. Lots of facts don't add up & now your brothet isn't responding to your calls. Very suspicious. You mentioned that he is multi divorced so should have a high ex spouse & child maintenance bill. That would be a reason for him to alter the will in his favour, take legal advice & speak to the police.
Hi op, just seen your thread and read it all. I am absolutely devistated for you. Just wondering how you got on? Xx
Yes, I was wondering too, I hope you managed to get the will declared invalid?
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Hope there is resolution for you now OP? Best wishes
Same thing has happened to me, my brother has managed to persuade my late Mother to change her Will so he got the lot, he did not even contact me to tell me she had died or invited me to her funeral!!! He is married to moderately wealthy woman and they have a very nice house on the Isle of Wight another in France, three very expensive cars and holiday in Morocco for a month every year. Now he is £325,000 richer he can do more of what he wants, mean while I will to continue to live on my State Benefit of £106:32 per week as for the last 11 years I have devoted my life to being a full-time Live-in Carer to a disabled young man who suffers from Epilepsy, learning difficulties, behaviour problems and is Autistic. I believe in 'Karma' & I hope it comes very soon & bites my brother on the bum.
I thought it was about time I gave an update.
It hasn't been easy. I have a great solicitor who is an acknowledged expert in the field of contentious litigation and who has specialised in probate fraud, with a history of success in that discipline. However, such expertise doesn't come cheap.
We now have expert forensic analysis of the original will and codicils underway and this should drive out future actions. If, as I suspect, analysis comes back supporting a case of fraud, I will be forced to make a very difficult decision.
Counsel's opinion is a good few thousand pounds, then issuing summons and preparing for court, even without thinking about the horrific costs at court, will run way past £10k and likely double that. Court itself would add perhaps £50k.
Of course we also have to consider the police. Lock him up and throw away the key springs to mind but even as he showed no compassion, I feel I must, though I am often challenged as to why. Yet as the days pass, I harden to the thought of simply throwing the book at him.
I hope to have reports this side of Christmas and then if they are positive, I will feel though at least there might be something to look forward to in 2014.
Many thanks for all the kind thoughts.
So glad you came back with a update Newbiz - I've had this thread in my 'threads I'm watching' list all this time.
How are you funding things? Have they 'frozen' your mother's assets or does your brother have his
fraudulently obtained share?
I do hope that it all works out for you and your family.
Thanks for coming back and updating Newbiz. I remember reading your OP when you started t last year. I can't believe this is taking so long! You poor thing. I just hope it all goes well for you . (sorry, no advice to offer, except to advise anyone who is able, to study Law and rake it in )
Wow, I have just seen all of this thread. I do hope you get justice.
My parents once asked me to take full inheritance and distribute half to my (elder but financially rubbish) sister when I saw fit. I said no way due to the family rift that would cause, even though I genuinely would have given her half. Defrauding your siblings is just unthinkable
I've been following this. I think from what you've posted getting truth and justice is more important than the money now isn't it?
Even if there was not a penny left after the court costs I suspect it would be worth it.
Just found this in my watched threads, did you get an outcome op?
A friend of my mum's is going through something similar. I say 'is' - the case has been running for 19 years . This was a sizeable estate but I don't think there can be anything left in it now.
Hope you will soon be in possession of enough information and evidence to make a decision about your next step, OP.
I've had direct experience of this in my family - it's a major kick in the teeth even when very small sums are involve and especially as obviously the person who knows the answer isn't alive to provide answers!!
I was widowed when I was 28 and got married again.
My first husband was an only child and we had a daughter from that marriage.
I married again and the in laws left their estate for the benefit of my daughter ( their granddaughter ).
Their relatives tried to obtain the money from the estate by saying blood relatives take priority.
They would not take an answer their granddaughter was a blood relative.
Also myself and my second husband did most of the caring in their later years and in all fairness their granddaughter did a lot for them.
The other blood relatives did not even visit them.
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