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Wills. Ignoring the deceased's wishes

(15 Posts)
HexBramble Wed 17-Jun-15 20:41:28

My DSD passed away 8 years ago. Before he died (long illness) he told me he had written his will. Everything would go to my Mum and then after her days, it would be divided equally between 4 - me, my younger brother and my 2 younger Step–siblings (1 girl, 1 boy, both in their early 30's).

Fast forward to this month. We have all but lost contact with my Step-brother and sister. My Mum had a terrible relationship with them - I'd blame both parties, but if I'm honest, I blame my DM for never putting them first. They never felt accepted by her and as the adult, she was never really that nice to them. I tried to have a relationship with them - I'm really family driven, but it was hard work. My step sister is lovely, my step-brother is really money driven. My younger brother is the blue eyed boy who doesn't bother with anyone except my Mum. All siblings have moved away from the area. I'm sad about this, but respect their wish to not get in contact.

My mother inherited a small fortune from an uncle last year. She bought a smaller house and has spent the last few months renovating it before finally moving in last week. The family house is in a state and needs renovating before she sells it. I asked her to sell it off then to honour my DSD's wishes and give my step-siblings their 25% share now. I figured it would be doing the right thing and it may also bring us back together again. She flew into a temper and has refused to acknowledge that they even exist, even fabricating a few stories as to how they wronged her, treated her badly etc. she admitted that she has not followed my DSD's wishes and has written her own will seperatly to his. All her estate will be left to just me and my younger brother.

I argued that, whilst I admit to not knowing the legality of this, morally, I felt that she was really doing the wrong thing. She doesn't care. I also said that it would cause untold problems for me after her days (Step-brother is money mad and despite not being in contact, I would guess that he would be watching for my Mum's demise in order to claim his share).

Has she broken the law here? I'm not particularly flush with cash but am comfortable and can imagine me giving my share of any inheritance to my step siblings. I just don't feel she's doing the right thing. I also worry that she's risking my Uncle's money because unless she makes a fair will now, I imagine my step brother will try and claim a share of that as well. My uncle was a mad old batchelor and would rather give all his cash to the dogs home instead of it going to my step siblings (he was heavily influenced by Mum).

<sigh>. I'm worrying about something that is in the future. I don't want hassle over money. I want to regain contact with my younger siblings, but not like this.

Sorry for the huge OP.

electionfatigue Wed 17-Jun-15 20:51:32

I believe that he leaves it to her and she is then free to do with it what she wants. You can't dictate someone else's will. But IANAL.

Blu Wed 17-Jun-15 20:57:43

If your Mum has been able to make a will leaving everything to you and your DB then I would guess that your DSD did not make any legal provision that he wanted the share of the house to go to his kids after your mother's death. He could have done this.

If your mother has been left everything that he had, with nothing in trust and no legal provision, then you are free to just hand over your share of what should have been your step siblings share of his estate. It doesn't sound as if your DB would be minded to be so reasonable.

But if he was so clear as to what he wanted to happen and had made a will, are you sure he hasn't actually made legal provision? Your DM could be talking bollocks, out of spite or ignorance?

I do agree that it would be extremely unfair for you and your db to inherit everything from both parent and your step siblings to get nothing.

I have a friend that this happened to - it is a horrible feeling.

HexBramble Wed 17-Jun-15 21:45:06

Thanks both.
Thanks Blu - so is writing a will expressing that we all be given a quarter different to making a legal provision?

I wish I'd taken a photo of his will - for me to be specific. I don't know what the best thing to do is....

One thought I had was to calculate what I would give them based on what the house sells for when she eventually sells it. Would this be the thing to do? I can't imagine my DBro giving up his share, so I'd give all my share to them equally, or divide it into 3 equal parts.

My mother is threatening to leave me out of her will if I'm intent on (using her words) pursing this ridiculous crusade. She thinks that by leaving my share to my children, then this will somehow make the money untouchable. I cannot for the life of me get her to see that she is so wrong here. I suppose I am just hoping that she is breaking the law and that I can get her to see sense now.

PatriciaHolm Wed 17-Jun-15 22:07:38

If all your DSD did was leave all his estate to your DM and just express a wish in his will that the estate be split on his death, then that has no legal

PatriciaHolm Wed 17-Jun-15 22:10:03

Oops sorry! no legal standing. The estate is your mothers to do as she wishes if that is all he did.

By making "legal provision", previous posters mean writing something in the will that ensures the money is merely held in trust by your mother, for example, for her lifetime and then split between you. This would have had to be written very explicitly in the will.

Can you get a copy of the will? Can you find it here -https://www.gov.uk/search-will-probate

Mumblechum1 Wed 17-Jun-15 22:18:19

Your SD should have made a life interest in possession trust. see www.marlowwills.co.uk/protecting-your-estate-from-care-home-fees.aspx for how these trusts work.

It doesn't sound as though he did set up a LIT trust and so yes your mum was free to leave the joint estate to whomever she chose.

I always suggest LITs in step families to prevent this all to familiar scenario.

Saying "I give everything to my wife and then when she dies to be divided 4 ways" is never going to work. It's virtually impossible to administer as the two estates become intermingled on the the first death.

Greenrememberedhills Wed 17-Jun-15 22:21:36

As I understand it, his will makes no sense. He left it to her. She could spend it all quite legally. He therefore can't dictate what she does with it.

I am not a lawyer but I'm pretty sure this is what I was advised about my own will- I have children who are Dhs and ones who aren't. Also I was concerned to make sure that if I died early then DH could not remarry then die himself, leaving a widow to spend my kids inheritance on herself. We all know it happens.

Apparently the only way to prevent that for certain would be if I made a type of will where I leave my half to the kids directly but let DH have a life interest in it. So unless your mum has a life interest only with it left to the 4 kids then it's up to her.

Blu Wed 17-Jun-15 23:03:15

I think there is little to be gained by battling with your mother over it. She sounds very unreasonable and not very nice in the subject of inheritance . It's very hard to see how a woman in your mother's position could think it OK to deny her DSC any of their father's estate.

If she does cut you out of her will you will have no chance of giving your step siblings a share. And in any case, she might not be telling the truth.

DelphiniumBlue Wed 17-Jun-15 23:08:52

I'd get a copy of his will and check exactly what it says.

Blu Thu 18-Jun-15 04:28:35

If your DSD made a will saying he left everything to his wife but that he wished his share to be left in turn to his children, I am sure a lawyer would have advised him to do that in a legally binding way: in trust, as Mimblechum says.
If he did do this then your mother cannot just write her own will over-riding it,
Maybe she is so bitter and twisted about your step siblings because she knows they already have been left half the house.

kickassangel Thu 18-Jun-15 04:56:39

Rather than battling your mother, who sounds like she'll fall out with you and there will be no hope to change things, do you know who the solicitors were who oversaw your sDad's will? Can you contact them, and find out for sure what his will said? Until you know if he made the right legal decisions, there's no point in battling your mother, it will do no good.

You should probably get a copy of sDad's will anyway - after your DM dies, your step siblings could contest her will, so knowing what the real situation is could be very useful.

Do you know which solicitor your mother used? Once you know the position of step-Dad's will, you could contact HER solicitor and check that they know the full situation.

Try not to get into arguments with your mother on this. It sounds like she's very set on playing the wicked step-mother, at least as far as inheritance, and there will be nothing that you can say to change her. Just try to be as well informed as possible, and keep solicitors aware of the full story, so that if the shit hits the fan (and there are a number of ways in which it may never happen) then you are better prepare.

For your own sanity, try to emotionally detach from this - it is a legal and financial matter. You know what you believe should happen, you will do your best to ensure it happens, but you don't need to get into the emotional maelstrom of trying to change your mother or step brother's personalities.

HexBramble Thu 18-Jun-15 05:48:03

Fantastic advice - I thank you all, very much. I have been anxious about this but now I need to detach or else I risk a fall out of epic proportions now.

My SD's solicitor made a few home visits to him before he reached end-stage. They were old friends so I can't imagine the solicitor leaving the will without the necessary clauses to ensure equality. I'm pretty certain he would know of tension in the camp, so to speak.

I'm going to try and get hold of a copy for peace of mind. Then I'll leave it go. Whatever financial situation I'm in when my mother passed away, I have to give them their share.

All this has bubbled to the surface because I helped my Mum move more things yesterday. Seeing some things, being in the room where he died (I was with him) has stirred some painful memories sad

Thanks everyone.

HexBramble Thu 18-Jun-15 05:51:46

When my Mum passes away.

Collaborate Thu 18-Jun-15 10:36:55

It's possible that there may have been a secret trust or mutual wills. If there are, you might be able to do something about it. If I were you I'd act now in case evidence gets lost (solicitors don't keep their files in storage forever).

See Studentroom and 1Chancerylane

A mutual will is one where 2 people will make wills in the knowledge that the other is making a will that they both agree on. On the death of the first, the survivor cannot alter their will. You'd have to speak to the solicitor who wrote your step-father's will to find out if that was the case. These wills are not uncommon.

A secret will can be either half-secret or fully-secret. Half secret would be, e.g., "I give £1m to x to hold on trusts that I have communicated to him". Fully secret wouldn't on the face of it be anything other than a straight forward legacy. There needs to have been acceptance prior to death by the "beneficiary" that they would receive the bequest on the trust.

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