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Is Mother being unreasonable regarding inheritance?

(98 Posts)
GoingSlowly Thu 26-Jan-17 12:16:27

Is my mum being unreasonable regarding the inheritance that may become available following my dad's death.....

My dad is unwell at the moment, and my mum has always had it in her head that he will die before she does. They separated about 20 years ago and now have new partners. When they split up they separated all of their possessions - she had one house, my father had the other, and because her house was worth less she had a cash lump sum to make up the difference. She also recieves just under half of my Dad's lucrative pension. At the moment she is renting out her house because she is living with her boyfriend.

The complication is that both of their names are still on both of their houses and they are still married (I know, ridiculous). They just never finalised it. My mother is now denying that she had a cash lump sum and said her settlement was 'unfair'. We know for a fact how much money she had, so this is untrue. She is telling my brother and I that when our Dad dies, she will inherit his money and house and we will have nothing.

Is it normal for someone who has been practicaly divorced/separated from someone for 20 years, to expect to then inherit from their ex? Dad does not want her to inherit and wants the house to go to us, but he is too frightened to challenge her (divorce) and she evades attempts to change the names on the houses so that they legally have one each.

Manumission Thu 26-Jan-17 12:18:29

Why doesn't your Dad take it back to court to finalise the finances now?

user1484317265 Thu 26-Jan-17 12:20:31

It doesn't matter what she expects or wants, only the legal definition. If there is no will and they are still married at the time of his death, she will be treated as his wife and probably his heir. Certainly she will get the houses.

Check out the legal position with someone who knows it properly. But don't get confused by what she wants, that makes no difference.

UnicornButtplug Thu 26-Jan-17 12:21:29

There must be a paper trail of the cash given to your mum? Maybe your dad could see about finalising the divorce now and get a will sorted?

HecateAntaia Thu 26-Jan-17 12:21:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DeathStare Thu 26-Jan-17 12:21:41

If your dad isn't prepared to sort this out legally then I have to question how much he cares about where his inheritance goes.

lalalalyra Thu 26-Jan-17 12:23:17

Your Dad is being unreasonable to leave this for you to sort.

If nothing else with two houses inheritance tax could be an absolute nightmare to sort - especially if your mother is the type to be difficult.

Are the houses owned as joint tenants or tenants in common? If your parents each own 50% of each house then your father can will his half of each one, but if they are jointly owned then your mother is right (technically) - she will inherit them.

MaxPepsi Thu 26-Jan-17 12:23:24

Your dad presumably needs to write a will leaving his half share of each house to his children.
He can state in the will why he is not leaving anything to his estranged wife of 20 plus years and I would like to think that should be sufficient?

*I am not a solicitor and do not have any will experience

TheMerryWidow1 Thu 26-Jan-17 12:23:46

if they are still legally married she will inherit everything, doesn't matter how long they haven't lived together, they never separated/divorced legally. Your Dad needs to sort this now.

MorrisZapp Thu 26-Jan-17 12:24:11

She's his wife, and as such would get everything he leaves in the event of him dying intestate. He needs to make a will, if there isn't time to divorce.

GoingSlowly Thu 26-Jan-17 12:24:16

Use - You are right, we know that at the moment she will get everything legally. My dad does not want this to happen. I just feel very disappointed with her, that she wants to keep all the money, when they've been apart for 20 years, and she hates him. What they agreed between themselves was a divorce setllement, but they did not legalise it. Now she is just ignoring the things that were agreed 20 years ago.

MorrisZapp Thu 26-Jan-17 12:26:30

She is being unreasonable, but the law won't judge her either way. Legally, she's fully entitled.

Somerville Thu 26-Jan-17 12:26:37

There is no such thing as 'practically divorced', though, is there. They are only separated and as such the one who outlives the other will probably inherit the entire estate of the other.

Your dad needs legal advice really, really quickly.

DeathStare Thu 26-Jan-17 12:27:57

I just feel very disappointed with her

I'd also feel disappointed with him. He's had twenty years to sort this out officially and protect his children's inheritance but he chose not to.

user1484317265 Thu 26-Jan-17 12:28:11

What they agreed between themselves was a divorce setllement, but they did not legalise it. Now she is just ignoring the things that were agreed 20 years ago

They might have thought of it that way, but if it wasn't legal, it wasn't a divorce settlement. Even if he can prove he gave her money then, it doesn't matter, with no legal seperation or divorce that's just a man sharing his money with his wife.

He needs to make a will now.

Eatingcheeseontoast Thu 26-Jan-17 12:28:22

Your dad needs legal advice and to write a will.

GoingSlowly Thu 26-Jan-17 12:28:27

They both own the houses jointly - so if he dies she will get the lot. He can't apportion half to us. The only thing he can do is get her to sign documents which would make her house hers in her name, and his in his name. Then he can make a will to leave it to us.
She is avoiding doing this - she needs to turn up and sign it!
He is worried about divorcing her because he has no trail from 20 years ago to show what she had then. She has said she will divorced him now and take half of what he has now. He thinks she will now take him to the cleaners.

AndShesGone Thu 26-Jan-17 12:28:35

Your dad clearly wants this to happen since it's not a surprise. He could have divorced her at any point, without her say so after 5 years.

Literally makes no sense confused

How hard would you have to bury your head in the sand to not do something, anything ?

TheMerryWidow1 Thu 26-Jan-17 12:30:22

he needs to get proper legal advice on the houses if they were bought as "joint tenants" he can't even "Will" is half to anyone. He really needs to speak to a solicitor, would be a nasty mess to leave to you and your brother.

DeathStare Thu 26-Jan-17 12:30:45

But even if in a divorce she took half of what he has now, that still leaves you and your brother in a better position than if he died still married to her and she took all of what he has now.

DeathStare Thu 26-Jan-17 12:33:17

Also - I'm not a lawyer - but I thought you could terminate joint tenancy without the other person's agreement and would then become tenants in common.

Lovewineandchocs Thu 26-Jan-17 12:33:39

Agree with pp-your Dad needs to make a Will. This means he can leave any assets held solely in his name such as money, shares etc to you and your brother. However, if both houses are held as a joint tenancy then she will automatically get both due to right of survivorship. I think your dad can start proceedings to compel the transfer of the houses into each of their names but he would really need expert legal advice asap.

user1484317265 Thu 26-Jan-17 12:35:02

but I thought you could terminate joint tenancy without the other person's agreement and would then become tenants in common

Between a married couple? I very much doubt that and certainly hope not!

RaspberryOverloadTheFirst Thu 26-Jan-17 12:36:29

You need legal advice. Both houses may be in both names, but I recall reading somewhere that either person could change the house from joint tenancy (where the house automatically goes to the surviving spouse) to tenants in common (where each spouse can will their halves independently). You apparently don't need the permission of the other spouse to make this change.

If this is correct, then your dad could legally make the change on BOTH houses and leave his half of BOTH houses to you. Which I don't think your mother would be anticipating.

Wtfdoipick Thu 26-Jan-17 12:37:07

He can change the joint tenancies on both Houses to tenants in common without her consent then leave a will leaving his half of both properties to you.

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