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Will - contested?

(33 Posts)
IfYoureHappyAndYouKnowIt Sat 08-Jan-11 19:32:25

My father died recently at almost 90 having been married for around 15 years.

His will stated:

£20K to spouse

£2K each to grandchildren

remaining cash to children

house to be used by spouse for the remainder of her years - or alternatively proceeds to be used for a smaller property for his spouse - all proceeds ultimately to go to his children once his spouse has no further use for the house

On this basis the children could receive c. £100K each ultimately.

His spouse has become upset and said that she expects an additional £100,000 cash or she will contest the will. This is on the basis that she feels that she paid for quite a lot when they were together. She has been aware of the provisions within the will for some years.

Any ideas on what the likely outcome would be would be very welcome. To me it feels that this would be going against the wishes of my father and we're quite surprised that this has happened.

lalalonglegs Sat 08-Jan-11 19:48:34

I have to say, in the context, #20k to his wife of 15 years doesn't sound very much. I have no idea if this will be a factor in her being able to contest the will or not though.

IfYoureHappyAndYouKnowIt Sat 08-Jan-11 19:53:22

Thanks - I think he did that because she has quite a lot of cash of her own that has been accumulating during their marriage and because as she is 86, he ultimately wanted his money to go to his children rather it going to her and then onto her children.

IfYoureHappyAndYouKnowIt Sat 08-Jan-11 19:56:27

Just to add a point, the £100K that the children would get includes some cash that my father had and the proceeds of the house when ultimately sold.

lalalonglegs Sat 08-Jan-11 20:03:27

Reading my reply back, it sounds a bit harsh - what I meant is that I can understand why she is upset. Why do you think she didn't do anything about it before if she knew the sums involved? Could it be tied up with her grief - did your father die quite recently? Do you and your siblings have a good relationship with her?

Sorry about your loss. Wills do tend to bring the worst out in people sad.

IfYoureHappyAndYouKnowIt Sat 08-Jan-11 20:15:39

Well, we got on ok with her, my brother especially but she has become very angry in the month or so since dad died and said now that she will only speak through solicitors.

I don't know why she didn't query it before to be honest. She was probably never happy but didn't want to fight with my dad.

We thought it was fairly reasonable as a home would always be provided for her and she has plenty of her own money. And tbh it would seems strange to me for my dads money to end up with her kids. But maybe that's just me?

I should point out that at almost 90, this was my dad's third partner. He had a similar arrangement with his second partner. When she died he was allowed to stay in her house (he had paid the running expenses for it for many years anyway) but actually moved fairly quickly in any case so that it could be sold and the proceeds go to her kids.

arentfanny Sat 08-Jan-11 20:17:36

I actualy think it is a very fair will in light of what you have said about he rown money, she has been provided a house to live in until she dies and some cash.


Did they buy the house together?

Did she have any financial input into it?

said Sat 08-Jan-11 20:19:23

Oh, difficult. But I can understand your dad's thinking when he made the will if he was on his 3rd marriage. Surely a solictor would advise her that it would be unwise to contest the will?

lalalonglegs Sat 08-Jan-11 20:20:28

I think she is probably upset by his death (which is to be expected) and wants reassurance that she meant more to him than #20k - contesting the will is a sort of project to keep her going through this period. It's possible she will calm down after a while.

The other option is that she doesn't have the money you think she does and she really needs a bigger legacy sad. It is really difficult to contest a will (my mother and her brother tried to contest their spinster aunt's in which she left everything to her solicitor and they still didn't win) and I imagine it is even harder if you can show that she knew the contents all along.

greedychops Sat 08-Jan-11 20:20:57

I think it does seem very reasonable of your dad, in the context of her having plenty of her own money to live on, and the house as long as she needs it.

I think in Scotland, a wife can claim legal rights, being a third of the moveable estate (so cash, not the house) instead of what was left in the will if she prefers (but she then woud forfeit what was left to her in the will), but I have no idea how it works in England (if that's where you are).

Sorry for the number of brackets there.

IfYoureHappyAndYouKnowIt Sat 08-Jan-11 20:21:17

Thanks for your replies by the way

He bought the house. She had previously sold her flat and therefore the cash she has is the proceeds from that flat.

She paid for some things but we believe that he paid for most things.

Some of the furniture is hers. She has been left all of the contents also.

IfYoureHappyAndYouKnowIt Sat 08-Jan-11 20:23:35

Thanks for the extra replies.

Lalalonglegs, yes I think it is for exactly those reasons. I think she has probably got £60 - £80,000 of her own.

arentfanny Sat 08-Jan-11 20:24:18

Still sounds very fair, does she have children of her own.

IfYoureHappyAndYouKnowIt Sat 08-Jan-11 20:26:40

Yep, three very helpful children all living nearby and grandchildren and great grandchildren

arentfanny Sat 08-Jan-11 20:27:49

Is it possible that they may be putting he up to this? (sorry very suspicious mind)

elliott Sat 08-Jan-11 20:29:05

I think it sounds fair, if you marry late in life when you have already accumulated all your assets and had all your children (separately) then its not really about dividing your estate is it? In fact, even if they had been life partners and the children were both of theirs, it would be fairly normal to pass on most of the wealth to the children on the first spouse's death, rather than retain it with the elderly spouse (as long as they have enough).
But she is not thinking rationally. Or maybe her children don't have any money and she is thinking that she may need more security if she needs care for herself for example?

elliott Sat 08-Jan-11 20:30:03

Or yes, perhaps her own family saw the marriage to your father as a bit of an opportunity??

CheesyRockChick Sat 08-Jan-11 20:36:45

Something similar happened to me when my father died. His partner (not married) contested the will as she was only left a share of the property (which was hers anyway). She used the 1975 Dependants Act and was able to successfully claim a substantial amount from the estate even though she had her own money. She claimed that my father supported her whilst he was alive therefore she was entitled to ongoing support.

CheesyRockChick Sat 08-Jan-11 20:40:21

By the way, if she decided to go the route of claiming using the Dependants Act then the will is referred to but is not binding.

nottellingyoumyothername Sat 08-Jan-11 20:52:35

Sorry for your loss.

She cannot 'expect' (i.e. blackmail you all) to gain an additional £100k.

A will is the legally binding wishes of the deceased, so the only way she gets any extra is by formally contesting it.

If she wants more, let her do just that, especially if she's gone into 'speak through solicitor' mode.

I was also wondering about the input of her DCs hmm

Sad how money can add to grief.

PermaShattered Sat 08-Jan-11 22:18:53

I've not read all the comments but if she contested the will I'm pretty positive she wouldn't get very far.

I was a private client solicitor and advised a number of times on this kind of case. If she contested the will via the Inheritance (Dependancy) Act (I've shortened the name there!) her age is crucial here: if she's 86 and the judge would assess how much she would need to maintain the standard of living see was accustomed too for how many years she's likely to live for (what's her physical condition for example!?)£20k might just be judged sufficient if unless, of course, she had a relatively luxuriously lifestyle!

Crucially, the will facilitates a home for her.

Hope that helps?

Resolution Sun 09-Jan-11 00:01:26

I agree with Permashattered. Doesn't make sense to enrich an 86 year old, who would divert her new found wealth to her own kids when she dies.

IfYoureHappyAndYouKnowIt Sun 09-Jan-11 10:21:08

Thanks very much everyone.

We dont think her kids have put her up to it as she seems to be leading the charge.

We will have a chat with a solicitor about it. Any thoughts on how best to find a solicitor for this kind of thing?

Im hoping the situation is as you say Perma and Resolution grin

nottellingyoumyothername Sun 09-Jan-11 12:44:08

Do you actually need to see a solicitor? You are ok with the status quo.

Surely you continue as you are (executors administering estate) unless she instigates proceedings?

ThisIsANiceCage Sun 09-Jan-11 13:57:06

Ha, this is so going to be my own DM in a few years. She has her own properties and pension, but is about to marry a wealthy, slightly older man.

She's always been a "What's mine is mine and what's yours is ours" sort, and is unlikely to challenge future DH about the scrupulously fair new will he's bound to make because a) she doesn't want to show herself up as a greedy loon and b) she'll get no where.

Instead, I'll bet money that if he dies first there'll be a shitstorm of indignation and martyrdom that she didn't get enough, and attempts to make her DH's children feel guilty. They, of course, will be hurt and bewildered and doubt their own judgement. Especially as she's such a charming old lady...

It sounds like your late DF has been more than fair to his spouse (whose financial position he presumably knew); and also had very clear wishes wrt his children and grandchildren. Please don't feel guilty for following those wishes!

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