Being left out of a will, feeling blue and confused(238 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 ?
..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.
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.
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?
I don't think your desire for
punishment justice is irrational, btw. Anger is good in this case.
It always breaks my heart when money comes between families to such an extent
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.
I really feel for you.
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.
"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??
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.
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.
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 then you can not say you did not try.
Couldn't you make a complaint to the people who oversee solicitors in the uk. Try www.sra.org.uk where there seem to be lots of links.
Any hint from your brother he'll just give you the rest so it does end up a 50% split?
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.
Where abouts are you OP - may be able to suggest inheritance dispute lawyers - certainly can in London
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.
... and sorry about your DM.
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.
No, advice, just angry on your behalf and wishing you luck and courage.
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.
It sound very underhand, I hope you get it looked at and dealt with.
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.
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
good luck, newbizmum - it's an awful thing to have done to you by your own brother
"a survey of STEP members in July 2005 showed that nearly half had come across cases of suspected fraud or theft from an estate"
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