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Being left out of a will, feeling blue and confused

(251 Posts)
Newbizmum Tue 24-Jul-12 01:18:17

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 ?

Matesnotdates Tue 24-Jul-12 01:28:22

You need to see a solicitor to see if the will is legal.

You have my sympathy - it's a body blow when this happens. You can't stop thinking - why?

suburbophobe Tue 24-Jul-12 01:36:19

I agree, you need to get your own solicitor to check this out, sounds all too weird....

Don't let them screw you out of what is yours by right. If your mother wanted different (to what it looks like now), she would be horrified, so go for it.

sleeplessinsuburbia Tue 24-Jul-12 02:36:23

I''d be really concerned without any guilt. My family has experienced a few dodgy inheritances without questioning it to keep the peace. In the last fewonths of my grandma's life she stressed a lot about her will because she had seen the system abused which was horrible to watch. I now believe you have a duty to make sure what she wished for happens and without even knowing you I feel this is out of character for a normal, functioning mother.
I would be very calm and ring the brother and state that you are concerned about the new will and will be asking a sicitor to investigate it. Before that I would visit the witnesses with your copy and ask general questions about her frame of mind at the time (if she actually did it).
You have nothing to feel guilty about.

ImperialBlether Tue 24-Jul-12 23:31:06

You definitely need to get solicitors onto it.

Did your mum suffer from dementia at the end?

What was your brother's response? Is he in debt? Did you notice beforehand he was planning to spend more than he was expected to get? Has he ever had a problem with drugs or with gambling?

This was how Harold Shipman was caught out, you know. A patient was a private secretary before she retired and her daughter said how much she prided herself on her typed work. When she saw the Will - full of spelling errors etc - she knew her mum hadn't written it. Also there were people left out who she knew her mum wanted to leave little things to. It basically said "I leave everything to Harold Shipman."

ImperialBlether Tue 24-Jul-12 23:32:02

Does your brother live locally to your mum?

LaurieFairyCake Tue 24-Jul-12 23:35:03

I think you are quite right to doubt the will and I would engage a solicitor immediately.

No school teacher without dementia is going to leave a codicil with a load of spelling errors. If I were you I'd be interested to see the original.

MotionOfTheOcean Tue 24-Jul-12 23:40:13

You say the Solicitor refused to give you a copy of the will,this would set alarm bells ringing for me as a beneficary is entitled to a copy of the will.Please get some legal advice.

toysoldiers Tue 24-Jul-12 23:41:12

Talk to a solicitor. DH's uncle forged his father's will leaving him everything.

This was to stop anyone finding out that he had already got the how signed over when DGF was suffering from dementia.

A codicil would normally used to add the odd change, maybe a bequest added or division of possessions. Very odd one would be used to fundamentally alter beneficiaries, especially of not drawn up by same solicitor.

ImperialBlether Tue 24-Jul-12 23:45:56

I would lay bets on your brother having a problem with gambling or other such debts.

CointreauVersial Tue 24-Jul-12 23:47:43

Was there any falling-out with your mother? Did she feel that your brother was perhaps in greater need of the money?

I understand why you are feeling devastated; not just because of the money but because of a perceived notion that you matter less than your brother.

You should certainly investigate this, but try to maintain a good relationship with your brother.

sleeplessinsuburbia Wed 25-Jul-12 01:31:16

Agree with imperial. Sorry.

Newbizmum Wed 25-Jul-12 03:28:17

Thanks for all the nice comments. I'll try to cover some points raised.

My brother is very insistent that our mother was totally alert until the end. However, when chatting in the last six months in person and on the phone, the conversation was repetitive with her recounting things to me as if for the first time, when the same items of news were talked about previously, sometimes many times before. This wasn't just a recap of events but delivered to me as the exciting news of the last week or weeks.

I talked about this with my husband but you don't think you need to have a full medical examination just in case, for later on, so to speak. I just put it down to old age and it appeared harmless.

My brother appears outwardly ok financially but he has always had somewhat expensive tastes and even when younger, would like the BMW convertible over the more financially sensible Ford or Vauxhall. He is a multiple divorcee but retained his child and has had a stable partner for some years now. Nothing seems out of the ordinary but you never know. However, from perhaps enjoying spending one's salary on luxuries to premeditated fraud seems a large step to take.

The other nagging thing is that I have now been told my mother knew she was dying but kept it quiet from me. A deathbed change to a will, written on a hospital sheet of paper I can understand, at least to a degree, but a wholesale change would surely have been through the lawyer who drafted all the previous wills and codicils. There was apparently plenty of time and I spoke to her many times after this change was supposed to have taken place.

More specifically, the changing codicil takes great care, though with poorly drafted language and the ever present spelling mistakes, to leave a specific sum to me and a smaller specific sum to my children. It is as if someone had googled for how a will might be challenged and then made sure to include everyone who thought they would inherit, to head off any challenge on the grounds that they had been forgotten.

Another change was in the ages at which the children would inherit. This was raised in the codicil from 21 to 25. Again, why draft this change, unless it was simply copied from somewhere else ?

I am not really a conspiracy theorist but as he could surely not be so stupid as to fake witness signatures, then any collusion must have included them. However, all the major changes in this codicil appear on a separate piece of paper, which could simply have been added in afterwards as there was, I presume, no legal record of this at the time, it not having been prepared by the solicitor.

Just to get my solicitor involved would be thousands by the time they had written here and there and digested the facts. Due to distance, I am not able to interview the witnesses, though a trip could be made specifically. I know who they are but I do not know them. A full blown challenge would cost, well, I do not know. £20,000 perhaps ? That is money I simply do not have.

My brother will now not take my calls, though I have not even raised the point that I now have the will. SMSs are delivered but not returned. I hope this is out of embarrassment and not malice but I cannot help but feel that were the shoe on the other foot and whilst I could find very good uses for 98% as opposed to 50%, I honestly feel I would just pick up the phone and say there must have been some mistake and I would order the solicitor to rectify it, to return to the status quo.

Yet during and after the funeral my brother was very insistent that everything would be done exactly as our mother wanted. I thought the comment somewhat strange but in the context of what I know now, it could be construed as scene setting, to perhaps later come out with a statement that if our mother wished him to have 98% then that is what he should do, sort of a perverse insistence in following it to the letter, a letter whose authenticity I now question.

Sorry, I know I am rambling somewhat but writing it down gives me some comfort. Thanks for the kindness, patience and understanding.

sleeplessinsuburbia Wed 25-Jul-12 03:41:26

I really feel for you, this is a shitty thing to deal with after losing your mother. Like I've already said, it doesn't sound plausible to me, and your brother's comment is doubly hmmm.

I would go to a solicitor once for advice : how to contact original solicitor, look at original will, get a list of things you can do eg take a day to visit the witnesses etc. to be honest, I have had a neighbor witness something and I had to tell her my name first... People being nice do this trusting what they are told. Your bro prob just knocked on their door and said she was too ill to come out etc and they would have just signed (if he didn't forge them).
Even if it would cost a lot to go to court you don't actually have to, I'd assume if you said to your brother your solicitor expects fraud etc and it looks like most of the total inheritance will be eaten in fees he may reconsider. I'd even ask him if he has any financial problems. This will let him know that people are suspicious and he might be relieved if you offer support.
Good luck, do what your mother and father would have wanted.

outtolunchagain Wed 25-Jul-12 08:22:52

I would advise seeing a good probate lawyer,possibly one that is a member of the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners.Most will give you a free initial appointment which would at least give you an idea of whether you would have a case and what would be involved in challenging the will.In my experience of circumstances like these, often the threat of challenging the will,will result in the main beneficiary agreeing to a Deed of Variation .It doesn't take away the hurt but may help if you feel your mother would not have wanted this.

toysoldiers Wed 25-Jul-12 09:25:08

Who are the executors and has probate been granted?

The thing to find out is if it is fraud (I.e. your mother didn't write or sign it) or undue influence (he made her sign it).

If she didn't sign it and it has been forged, it won't cost you a lot. In fact, threaten to involve the police.

Undue influence is more complicated but basically, the greater the change (as in this case) the more burden there is to prove they were of sound mind. This would normally consist of your mother calling a solicitor herself, arranging an appointment and meeting him alone. The solicitor should then use their reasonable judgement.

If this didn't happen, then you would have a very strong case.

I suspect your brother is panicking. The fact that he won't return your calls suggests he knows he's been found out.

And are you really going to be able to maintain a relationship with him knit you just 'let it go'?

He has the potential to make this right. I would suggest a stern solicitors letter to him would focus his mind.


starfishmummy Wed 25-Jul-12 09:48:45

I find it very odd that the solicitor would not give you a copy of the will.

Remember that if the solicitors were the executors they were working for the estate and NOT your brother, so as a named beneficiary you should be entitled to see things like the will and how the estate was distributed.

When my Dad's estate was dealt with the solicitor sent each of us (brother and I) a full copy of how it had been distributed. It showed all my Dad's assets; what the solicitor had spent (funeral costs, his fees etc) and then how the remainder was distributed.

blueglue Wed 25-Jul-12 09:59:47

This is very weird indeed. It does sound like your brother has been involved in some sort of fraud. I don't know anything about this sort of stuff, but wonder if it is worth reporting to the police if the solicitor is too expensive.

If you don't get anywhere via any route, I would never speak to your brother again. I have to say that even if in the unlikely event that the will is real, your brother ought to feel guilty about the mismatch and consider gifting you some of his inheritance.

ImperialBlether Wed 25-Jul-12 13:01:53

I think I would try the police as a first port of call, actually. From what you say it is really, really suspicious.

Why would a mother who gets on well with both children leave 98% to one child and a small, specified sum to another? Why raise the age of inheritance for the grandchildren when the sum is so small? Why not use a solicitor?

If she was in hospital and said she wanted to change her Will, the nurses would contact her solicitor.

Is there a date on this 'codicil'?

ImperialBlether Wed 25-Jul-12 13:05:35

OP, I've just thought.

The original Will left everything between the two of you?

A codicil is only to make small alterations, not to totally rewrite the Will. So, if your mum made a new friend and wanted to leave her her sewing machine, she'd add it on as a codicil. If that friend died before her, another codicil would be written to give the sewing machine to someone else.

What seems to have happened there is that your mum (or someone) has replaced the original Will by virtue of adding a codicil. This isn't the point of it at all.

If your mum wasn't of sound mind when she wrote the codicil then it's not valid. If she was always okay, but perhaps a bit absent minded, then surely she would have asked for her solicitor to make any changes?

ImperialBlether Wed 25-Jul-12 13:06:46

OP, do you and your brother live in the same country? Did either of you live near your mum (when she was alive)?

Toughasoldboots Wed 25-Jul-12 13:13:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Toughasoldboots Wed 25-Jul-12 13:13:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Toughasoldboots Wed 25-Jul-12 13:14:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ajandjjmum Wed 25-Jul-12 13:15:46

Do you think your brother might feel some sort of entitlement - nomatter how misplaced - if he was the one physically closest to your DM, and looking after her?

What a shitty thing for you to have to deal with. I would certainly contact an expert - presumably you need to lodge your concern promptly, so that the funds don't disappear?

Sorry you've lost your DM.

ImperialBlether Wed 25-Jul-12 13:32:48

Just thought. How do the grandchildren differ in terms of inheritance? I don't think your mum would have differentiated there, would she?

In any case, from what you say about the codicil it's pretty obvious she hasn't had anything to do with it.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Wed 25-Jul-12 14:05:20

Are you all in the UK? If so, I would speak to the police. Do you have a friendly lawyer (relative or family friend) who could maybe point you in the right direction if you don't like the police option.

This sounds very weird.

TheSilverPussycat Wed 25-Jul-12 18:20:39

Toughasoldboots is right about getting the will after probate - I did so while doing the forensic accounting for my divorce settlement. It's cheap, google how to do it.

And at one point I was afraid Ex had defrauded the estate of his DM, but this turned out not to be true, thank God.

I took the bank statements and deposited them with my solicitor, and had I not been able to trace the fishy account which prompted my suspicions, I would have gone to the police. Luckily, all was well, but Op's case does sound well dodgy.

And some solicitors can be tempted sad

ImperialBlether Wed 25-Jul-12 19:02:21

Trouble is, the money's passed to the brother by then, hasn't it? If he spends it quickly that might be too late.

TheSilverPussycat Wed 25-Jul-12 20:08:41

Still worth contacting the police, or perhaps a solicitor, for advice imho.

RandomMess Wed 25-Jul-12 20:15:29

Who is the executor of the will, I believe your fist port of call is to alert the executor to the fact that the will seems out of character, seems not to be the way your mother would have behaved if she was of "sound mind" and you are concerned that she was pressurised/tricked into signing it...

JustFabulous Wed 25-Jul-12 20:32:52

I really don't think it is £20,000 to contest a will.

If it helps, a relative made a new will literally days before they died and it was properly done, with the solicitor coming to the place (can't remember what it is called. It is where you go when there is no hope of survival), and it was witnessed, signed and stamped correctly.

Ambersivola Wed 25-Jul-12 20:33:37


I haven't read all the replies, but one thing has occured to me. If your mother was not present when the codicil was witnessed and signed by the witnwsses then the codicil will be null and void. It should not cost a lot to get the soilcitor to investigate the witnesses. Indeed it may be something the Probate Registry would be interested in.

TheSilverPussycat Wed 25-Jul-12 20:34:23

I second RandomMess's advice - unless the brother and solicitor mentioned above are the executors...

VivaLeBeaver Wed 25-Jul-12 20:37:08

The problem is if the witnesses are friends of your brothers rather than genuine witnesses. They could be in on it and then I don't know how you'd prove it.

LaVitaBellissima Wed 25-Jul-12 20:40:15

Hope you get to the bottom of it all, you shouldn't feel guilty in any way to take this further.
Sorry for the loss of your mother thanks

HoleyGhost Wed 25-Jul-12 20:41:55

In a similar situation we consulted a lawyer. One letter led the guilty person to offer a settlement. We signed away our right to challenge the dodgy codicil in exchange for a fraction of what the deceased had wanted us to inherit.

We did not have the stomach to do battle in the courts. You don't either but your db does not know this.

Viviennemary Wed 25-Jul-12 20:48:24

It's difficult to understand why you couldn't see a copy of the will when you were named on it. This would ring alarm bells for me. Sounds really dodgy. I'd definitely challenge it by getting your own solicitor. I thought a codicil was only like an extra sentence or two as somebody else said. Not a change to the whole will. And who witnessed the codicil.

TheSilverPussycat Thu 26-Jul-12 10:21:04

The fact that your brother has cut contact is suspicious.

Wills can be varied after death - google deed of variation. (We did this with a great aunt's will),

Newbizmum Sat 28-Jul-12 21:16:45

Thanks again for the comments and kind words. Again, I'll try to cover the points raised.

The executors are my brother and his latest wife. The solicitors are a local firm who have been the ones to draw up all previous wills and codicils.

I obtained a copy of the will from the Probate Registry. Neither my brother nor the solicitor would give me a copy, citing a request made in this suspicious codicil, that I was not to be informed of the death of my mother until after the estate had been dealt with. This only arouses further suspicion.

In previous codicils, the witness signatures come immediately after the reason for the codicil and immediately after the signature of my mother. In this codicil, there are 3 pages. The first page contains a clause relating to a car, which is a fine use of a codicil and it has my mother's signature. The third page only has the signatures of the witnesses. It is on page 2 where the wholesale changes are made but it looks very suspicious that this page was added later. The pages are numbered sequentially but the typeface is different and the margins do not fit, making me think the page numbers were added later by running the original codicil and the 2nd page through a printer set up to only print the page numbers on a blank sheet. The numbering of the pages effectively shows that the suspect 2nd sheet was in fact there originally but not if the numbers were added later.

I do think my brother feels more of an entitlement for sure. Yet the locality works both ways through life, what with baby sitting on the doorstep for decades, picking up small cash handouts over the years, way more physical presents for all birthdays etc. I am farther away but hardly at the end of the earth.

I also thought I was entitled to a copy of the will by right but it appears that is not so. By making me a specific beneficiary and my children too, allocating absolute amounts rather than percentages, this means I have no right to a copy of the will nor a right as to the price at which assets are liquidated. Only a residuary beneficiary has those rights apparently, where their inheritance is a percentage and therefore the prices of everything affect the eventual payout. This would appear clever.

The comment on my mother not differentiating between grandchildren is a moot one as well. The wording used is "children of my daughter ..." rather than grandchildren, whereas the child of my brother was deeded worthy of the title grandchild. This is at odds with reality and smacks of being written by someone emotionally charged at having to include my children against their wishes perhaps. I do know my brother was jealous that others would share in the inheritance he once thought would solely be his.

As time passes and I digest the facts again and again, I am finding that the only explanation which makes sense is fraud but the real question is who drafted this codicil ? It is truly so badly that it could not be my mother, nor my brother either. It is almost as if written by someone only semi literate. It is my understanding that the witnesses are non skilled manual workers and whilst this does not mean their literacy is so poor as to fashion this codicil, they are the only ones "in the frame" so to speak. My brother faking it so poorly as to cast suspicion elsewhere could be an argument but is he that clever ? Perhaps.

What has come over me in these last few days is, for me, an irrational desire to punish anyone who has conspired to defraud my mother. I don't just want a deed of variation and the splitting of the assets more equally but rather I want punishment, even if that includes jail for my brother or his family. I could never forgive, never forget and what is broken cannot be mended. If he is seeking to commit a fraud to enrich himself, then I do want the police involved and I want him arrested and shamed.

Thanks for the link for the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. I do fear the cost of litigation because at an hourly rate in the mid £200s or nearly £300 when you add on VAT, costs reach enormous levels very quickly. Actually preparing for court is in the tens of thousands as you are instructing barristers and if you actually go to court, you are running perhaps £5000 plus a day. My figure of £20,000 was really a low ball estimate. Add together both sides and a court appearance and you will be well over £50,000, perhaps heading towards £100,000 if court time is lengthy and multiple witnesses are called. It is a truly serious and potentially life changing undertaking.

I am going to get this reviewed by a solicitor and see what advice I receive. Until then, I can do nothing and any actions I take may cause more harm than good. I'll report back afterwards. Thanks.

RandomMess Sat 28-Jul-12 21:22:05

urgh what a nightmare sad

I agree it's not about the money it's about defrauding what your Mum wanted, it's just awful.

whatinthewhatnow Sat 28-Jul-12 21:29:13

god OP this sounds a complete nightmare for you. Please do whatever you can to look into it. It does seem so unfair that because of vast expense you may be prevented from getting to the bottom of it. I hope your conversation with a solicitor is helpful. And sorry of course to you for the loss of your mum.


Viviennemary Sat 28-Jul-12 21:30:15

The thing is you are not just challenging the will which you think is unfair, but you are also worried that fraud or forgery has been committed. So would that not be different to just the challenging of the will.

FridayNightOlympicRing Sat 28-Jul-12 21:32:00

If I was in your position I'd rather see the money go to solicitors than stay with your brother, how awful for you to be facing this after the death of your mother. sad

The more you describe the codicil, the more it sounds like you have a good case though. Good luck with your solicitor.

HappyCamel Sat 28-Jul-12 21:33:00

Some solicitors will work on a no win, no fee or a fixed fee or capped fee basis.

TheSilverPussycat Sat 28-Jul-12 21:33:59

Is this not potential fraud/forgery and therefore a criminal matter, to be drawn to the attention of the police? Had my suspicions re my ex not been found to be wrong, that was going to be my next step.

PavlovtheCat Sat 28-Jul-12 21:35:29

I do think that, as you have suspicions this will has been fraudulantly gained, rather than your mother being coerced into it, you should have a conversation with the police and say everything you have said in here. or, if you are worried you won't be heard, write it all down in a letter and take it to them and ask to see someone get them to read it. While coercion is harder to prove, it would be much easier for the police to investigate and prove fraud, esp as they would look at previous wills and current codicils.

I am so sorry that in the midst of grief you are having to contend with a money grabbing bastard, which of course he is. As you mentioned, if this was your mother's wish for as long as you could remember, it would only seem right that he would say 'this seems odd, of course this should be 50/50 as that is what mother always wanted so that is how we will proceed'.

BlackSwan Sat 28-Jul-12 21:38:03

There are too many flags to ignore here. Your brother sounds like a thief. And the bastards left you such a small sum, they thought you wouldn't be able to finance a lawyer to challenge it. But do it.

BettySuarez Sat 28-Jul-12 21:38:28

Good grief op, sorry to sound flippant but this sounds like a case for Miss Marple. Everything that you have outlined sounds very suspicious indeed.

Good luck with your investigations and very sorry to hear about your DM sad

PavlovtheCat Sat 28-Jul-12 21:39:44

"Neither my brother nor the solicitor would give me a copy, citing a request made in this suspicious codicil, that I was not to be informed of the death of my mother until after the estate had been dealt with. This only arouses further suspicion" omg my alarm bells are ringing and I am feeling sick on your behalf sad this feels so wrong. why would that happen? why would your mum not want you to know about her death until the estate had been dealt with? that is the most bizarre request, without there being a huge and irreparable rift between child/mother, which you would then know about.

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Sat 28-Jul-12 21:43:17

..the inheritance he once thought would solely be his

Why did your brother originally think that only he would receive any inheritance?

If you know this to be a fact, it does rather suggest that he has deliberately ensured that this remains the case.

DukeHumfrey Sat 28-Jul-12 21:44:35

I do not understand why you think it would cost so much to challenge. I would be highly surprised if it was sufficiently complex.

Are you afraid to challenge this "will" for some other reason? It looks almost as though you are looking for a reason not to do it.

I agree with everyone else: whole thing as described is very suspicious. You need to investigate to see if it truly is, or whether it's just some massive - if bizarre - misunderstanding.

cakeismysaviour Sat 28-Jul-12 21:45:07

How awful. sad

I think it is very suspicious indeed and I would try the police.

Have you mentioned in any of your messages to your brother that you are suspicious about it all, and are considering contacting police/lawyers?

TheSilverPussycat Sat 28-Jul-12 21:45:46

I don't think your desire for punishment justice is irrational, btw. Anger is good in this case.

maples Sat 28-Jul-12 21:46:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LurkingAndLearningLovesCats Sat 28-Jul-12 21:46:43

It always breaks my heart when money comes between families to such an extent sad

Wishing you the best of luck OP...Though I don't know what solution is more hurtful! Either it's real (and I'd be gutted, feel so unloved) or your own brother treated his mother and sister this way for the almighty dollar.

sad I really feel for you.

nsjuly Sat 28-Jul-12 21:52:42

That is horrendous and definitely appears suspicious. I hope you get good legal advice and challenge it successfully. Horrible situation though.

I'm sorry for your loss.

CelstialNavigation Sat 28-Jul-12 21:56:09

"Neither my brother nor the solicitor would give me a copy, citing a request made in this suspicious codicil, that I was not to be informed of the death of my mother until after the estate had been dealt with."

The codicil says that you were not to be told that your mother had died, until the estate had been dealt with??

That is extremely strange in itself surely??

As you were in regular touch with your mother by phone how could the fact of her death be kept from you until after an estate had been dealt with??

fuckwittery Sat 28-Jul-12 21:58:41

I think that the OP is not misguided about the cost of litigation if it went to trial (lawyer here but not a probate lawyer), but it might be possible to have initial investigations that show a fraud at an early cost and it is worth speaking to a solicitor and getting an estimate for initial work to investigate.

GnomeDePlume Sat 28-Jul-12 22:56:29

Newbizmum, having read your posts a couple of thoughts spring to mind:

1. are you sure the estate is worth £300,000? Is it possible that it is worth more but that you are being given a lower figure?
2. is it possible that your DB has already mortgaged your DM's home and that this inheritance is needed to cover the loan?

When I read your posts the second point above kind of shouts out to me as I guess he would have means and oportunity and multiple marriages would suggest motive.. If that is the case then he has probably burned his way through the money, the cash you are being offered was what was in the bank accounts and therefore available.

If he has mortgaged your DM's house then you will have to decide whether you want to proceed.

DorisIsWaiting Sat 28-Jul-12 23:06:29

It may be worth [posting in legal matters to get recommendations on experts in this area.

It sounds highly suspect and possibly not legal as a codecil in the first place (placing of signatures etc).

Good luck I think you have VERY strong reasons for not giving up on this, If you don't want to feel mercenary for yourself investif=gate further for the sake of your children.... If it's all proved above board hmm then you can not say you did not try.

SofiaAmes Sun 29-Jul-12 00:55:20

Couldn't you make a complaint to the people who oversee solicitors in the uk. Try where there seem to be lots of links.

TellyBug Sun 29-Jul-12 01:10:59

Any hint from your brother he'll just give you the rest so it does end up a 50% split?

fuckwittery Sun 29-Jul-12 07:11:54

Sofia, why would the OP complain to the SRA? I can't see anything in her posts blaming the solicitors. It is her brother who may have defrauded her. She later on explains that the codicil is worded in such a way that the solicitors were not obliged to give her a copy of the will. She also has no proof whatsoever that the solicitors are involved in anything and I very much doubt that they are.
What I would do, at no cost, is write to the solicitors involved, say that you are seriously concerned about the codicil now having seen it from the Probate Registry for reasons X Y Z - and that you will be consulting solicitors. Scare them a bit so they consider delaying the distribution of estate while you have some time to investigate.

fuckwittery Sun 29-Jul-12 07:12:55

Where abouts are you OP - may be able to suggest inheritance dispute lawyers - certainly can in London

maples Sun 29-Jul-12 07:39:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

IDismyname Sun 29-Jul-12 07:53:29

NewBiz - I def smell a rat. If I read correctly, your brother has something to hide.
Go and see a solicitor and let him know that you are doing so. That might shake him up.
Good Luck

... and sorry about your DM.

SofiaAmes Sun 29-Jul-12 14:37:00

fw, someone has said that a codicil cannot significantly change the terms of a will. If the codicil that the solicitors have drawn up does just that and they are using wording of that same "invalid" codicil to prevent op from seeing codicil and receiving money, when in fact they shoudl know that it's invalid because it exceeds its purview, then they are in fact acting inappropriately and should be reported.

LoopyLoopsHasAnAdventure Sun 29-Jul-12 14:55:20

No, advice, just angry on your behalf and wishing you luck and courage. smile

edam Sun 29-Jul-12 15:05:57

All sounds extremely dodgy - why would a firm of solicitors prevent a beneficiary from receiving a copy of the will? That's not in their power, surely? The bit about not being informed of your Mother's death until her estate is distributed rings horribly of fraud - your brother wanted to make away with the money before you had any chance to say, hang on a second here...

DO consult a firm of solicitors who are specialists in probate law (if that's the right phrase, am not an expert) and get an initial opinion. Your brother may well be up to something very dodgy indeed - and your Mother's wishes should not be ignored.

RabidAnchovy Sun 29-Jul-12 15:10:52

It sound very underhand, I hope you get it looked at and dealt with.

Subarashii Sun 29-Jul-12 16:24:40

What a miserable situation sad

YellowDinosaur Mon 30-Jul-12 09:32:58

Take the whole lot to the police. Today. It sounds incredibly suspect and any delay while you mess about with solicitors could increase the chance of probate being granted and your brother making off with your mums money.

If you wish you could inform your brother that is what you are planning to do to give him a chance to do the right thing but it sounds from your latest post that you would want him to face the consequences anyway.

If the policed don't take it seriously then buy all means look into solicitors but in light of your,latest post I would gp to the police first.

Ponders Mon 30-Jul-12 12:46:38

document on probate fraud from STEP (Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners)

too wordy & techie for me but I hope someone here has the knowledge to dig out the relevant bits

but from the opening paras it sounds like a surprisingly widespread problem hmm

good luck, newbizmum - it's an awful thing to have done to you by your own brother

Ponders Mon 30-Jul-12 12:48:45

"a survey of STEP members in July 2005 showed that nearly half had come across cases of suspected fraud or theft from an estate"

shock angry

Rosa Mon 30-Jul-12 12:50:41

Don't leave it, it all sounds very dodgy , it sounds as if relations with your brother are strained anyway so you can't make thinks worse. I would seek legal advice...

SomethingSuitablyWitty Mon 30-Jul-12 13:04:56

THis is truly shocking. I wish you every success in your efforts to get to the bottom of this awful affair OP.

MsIngaFewmarbles Mon 30-Jul-12 13:06:51

sad OP I hooe you can get this resolved. I agree with other posters that you must go to the police as it definitely sounds like fraud to me.

GnomeDePlume Mon 30-Jul-12 13:12:28

I had a read through the document linked to by Ponders. There are a number of types of fraud described but there were two which I thought might be particularly relevant to Newbizmum:

- Immediate post-death fraud where wills are suppressed or forged, codicils are forged or assets are removed or hidden
- Lifetime fraud where there is fraud in the preparation or completion of a will or abuse of power during the end of a persons life

Either or both of the above could apply in this case.

If we take Nebizmum's description of her brother and the situation as accurate then it would not have been beyond the wit of her brother to 'persuade' his mother to mortgage her property to his benefit. The will is then changed to ensure that assets go to the brother to pay off the mortgage.

The problem is that this could easily be the situation either with or without fraud having take place. Whether fraudulent or not I could easily imagine that the brother would want to conceal what he had done.

Longdistance Mon 30-Jul-12 13:48:05

Would a caveat put a stop to him doing anything?

Has your brother actually told his solicitor he has a sister. I know this sounds strange, but he could be trying to take over everything, and any money left on your dm bank account, he has given to you to keep you quiet.

Get some good legal representation asap, as I smell a rat on this one. Especially the codicil, especially the signatures on different pieces of paper confused

BobbiFleckman Mon 30-Jul-12 13:58:30

can you get your hands on the original codicil? there are SUPERB paper forensics people who can do an expert report for relatively little money who can tell an enormous amount about how a document has been produced - i have come across them professionally in a similar case where a document was cut & shut (like this one sounds it has been) but you do need the original.

advisemewisely Mon 10-Sep-12 17:59:58

have you had any further development on your situation?

SomethingSuitablyWitty Tue 11-Sep-12 15:07:49

I have been wondering about this too. Hope you have managed to move things forward OP

sashh Wed 12-Sep-12 11:58:32

You need to talk to a solicitor.

Check your house insurance, you might have legal cover that would cover a challange.

If you are sure this is a forgery / underhand / your brother changing things then get the police involved because it is fraud.

cornflowers Tue 30-Oct-12 19:46:16

Was this finally resolved? Sounds like an awful situation to be in.

Newbizmum Sat 01-Dec-12 02:47:42

Many thanks for all the comments and messages of support. I value the heartfelt kindness very much. I am able to give an update now.

I have good legal representation though it is horrendously expensive. However, there is no option else I could not explain to my children why their grandparents left them nothing and more importantly, why I never challenged what I knew to be wrong.

Having reviewed the original documentation at the Probate Office and not just poorly made photocopies, it is clear to me that additions have been made. I won't go into too much detail but suffice to say that the next step is to enlist the services of a forensic document examiner. If anyone knows of a truly good one with gravitas I would love to receive a recommendation. If they are cheap or flexible on terms then even better smile

However, I am minded to involve the police now. If alterations have been made, then that is fraud and fraud is a criminal offence. I know the repercussions of such action or at least I believe I do but someone close to me has stolen the future away from my children and I don't even think a simple financial settlement will suffice.

I want this plastered all over the front page of the newspaper to warn off other would be fraudsters when they see the prison sentence handed out to my brother in this case. If he has spent the money the solicitor has now distributed, then I want his house sold if need be. I don't care any more; he lost the right to be pitied when he sought to steal from my family.

I know this is not a nice feeling to have but I cannot see past retribution as I swallow the financial burden of righting a wrong. This will not defeat me, even if it defeats the guilty.

3bunnies Sat 01-Dec-12 03:23:46

I would speak to the police. We are unfortunately having to involve them (completely unrelated incident - but also defrauding) and they have been great. I would also PM BobbiFleckman who posted on this page, she sounds as if she might have some contacts. I read your post a while ago, so pleased that you are making progress, but so sad that your bro could do that to you.

3bunnies Sat 01-Dec-12 03:25:38

Maybe ask for your post to be moved to legal where there will be more relevant passing traffic.

SavoyCabbage Sat 01-Dec-12 05:32:22

I'm glad you are pursuing this Newbiz, it must be very difficult for you.

Newbizmum Sat 15-Dec-12 02:28:46

Not sure how to ask for something to be moved, if it should be. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable could help me on this one.

Each time we take a turn it looks more and more as though something is wrong with the documentation. I am more certain than ever that my kids should be lawyers what with the massive fees being racked up.

Slainte Sat 15-Dec-12 03:47:25

Click on the Report button and you can explain to MNHQ why you want the post deleted. Good luck.

LoopsInHoops Sat 15-Dec-12 04:07:30

Still keeping my fingers crossed for you smile

stella1w Sat 15-Dec-12 04:49:59

If you go to the police perhaps they will have expoerts to examine the documetns?

Valdeeves Sat 29-Dec-12 10:04:51

I've seen similar and the truth was an aunt put pressure on an elderley mother to ensure one child was written out of the will. Your brother has done this in my opinion - I agree with the debts theory etc - you must act in some way if only into scaring him into giving him your share.

HecateQueenofWitches Sat 29-Dec-12 10:10:10

If you are challenging this, doesn't the estate get frozen until it's sorted?

So you can stop him taking any money if you act quickly. Otherwise, he's got it and you've got less chance of doing anything.

So if you haven't already made it official with probate then do so asap.

I am not a solicitor, so don't know the legal ins and outs but I am fairly sure that the whole lot can be frozen while things like this are sorted out.

Thisisaeuphemism Sat 29-Dec-12 10:15:19

Keep going newbiz, your brother will not have expected you to challenge. I know it's expensive but it's worth it - he can't screw you over like this.

BettySuarez Sat 29-Dec-12 10:21:21

Thanks for posting, I had read the thread when you posted earlier in the year and wondered whether things had been resolved. Good luck to you OP smile

insanityscratching Sat 29-Dec-12 10:53:50

Dh's dsis challenged her father's will because she was unhappy that he had left an equal share to dh and our dc as well as to her and her dc. Her reasoning being that dh and his father had had a rocky relationship in his teens (before we met) and she believed that dh had coerced his father to changing this. Dh was early forties by the time his father passed and he had a close and loving relationship with dh and his dgc at the time of his death but dsil couldn't see past her knowledge of ds as a teen (typical teenage shenanigans nothing unlawful) Of course it was all lawful and dfil had had a new will made on dmil's death (who incidentally would have left nothing to dsil) but she couldn't help feeling she had been done out of money. I wonder whether OP's db felt similarly deluded and decided to take matters into his own hands as I suspect dsil might have done had she been aware of the will's contents prior to dfil's death.

aufaniae Sat 29-Dec-12 11:43:00

I think you're absolutely right to go to the police.

Why should you fork out £££££ to investigate something, when it looks very likely a crime has been committed?

I agree you should act quickly, before he spends / hides the money.

ChristmasIsForPlutocrats Wed 02-Jan-13 10:38:24

I read this when you first posted, and am glad that you now have enough to support your suspicions, not because I am glad that you have been defrauded, but because you are no longer frustrated and doubting yourself. I hope the New Year brings some resolution for you.

Great idea from Hecate, about applying to have the estate frozen while this is investigated.

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