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Could I contest "D"H's will?

(55 Posts)
MrShitsWife Thu 31-Mar-16 08:24:22

We've been married over 25 years, four children (teens to early twenties) and have accumulated a large number of assets. For the first 15 years I was the main breadwinner and dh concentrated on doing up our homes and his own job/hobby. Ten years ago the company I worked for closed and the only work for me was on contract in the the far east, as my area is very specialised. With young children I didn't want to away for protracted lengths of time, and as childcare was becoming increasingly difficult (nannies didn't want four young children when they could have a baby and a toddler) we decided I'd become a SAHM.

It's been pretty shit. Dh has resented giving me any money for housekeeping, never mind clothes etc, and I ended up doing various jobs to supplement the odd £20 he'd give me. This was not helped by a very nasty legal case we were fighting which could have resulted in our losing our house. Anyway by 2010 that was resolved and our main asset started to give a good income. Money still was given very begrudgingly but my menial job had turned into quite a successful business, enough to at least put food on the table etc.

In 2012 I was rung up by one of my in-laws to be told I should be aware of my husband's will, it was written in such a way as to leave me very little. Our main asset is left to the children, all "D"H's hobby stuff is split between two of the children and I am left with the remainder, but out of that remainder I have to pay the inheritance tax due on the assets the children have inherited. This would mean I'd have to sell all remaining assets, including the family home, and would just have enough left to buy something considerably smaller, but no income etc.

I saw a divorce lawyer at the time, and felt much better regarding what would happen in the case of divorce, but they were not able to comment on the will as a) they were not probate specialists and b) I had copied it without dh's knowledge.

Things have moved on since then, dh has been a bit better, I'm now allowed 8% of the income, and no longer have to beg for it, but the main asset is now worth 65% of the total, so I shall be in a pretty bad situation if he were to die.

So, after this epic post, could I contest the will? Would this mean it would be me v the children, not something I'd really want. This has come to a head now as part of the asset is being sold and dh is putting the money into something else which he plans to leave solely to our son. It is not going to be in joint names (according to dh, I'm planning on fighting this and have seen a solicitor again). The main asset is not in joint names, I stupidly went along with dh at the time of its purchase, and he's refused to put it in joint names since.

I know a lot of the above is much more to do with relationships, but I'd really like to get he will bit clear in my mind. Sorry for the epic length.

glasg0wmum Thu 31-Mar-16 08:28:51

You'd need to take legal advice. Many lawyers offer the first hour's advice free. If he were to die, you can contest a will on a "no win no fee" basis in many cases which lowers your risk. You wouldn't be able to contest the will until your husband died though, and who knows how the law will have changed by that stage. And yes, it would be you against the other beneficiaries, who would be your children.

Northumberlandlass Thu 31-Mar-16 08:34:41

Take legal advice re Will and a divorce.
Do you actually love him? You don't mention that at all.

StrawberrytallCake Thu 31-Mar-16 08:37:51

I suggest divorce, that way you don't have to worry about the will or your husband financially abusing you.

MrShitsWife Thu 31-Mar-16 08:51:04

Thanks for the replies. I have taken legal advice regarding the divorce, but would like to try and postpone it until after the two youngest have finished their GCSE's and A levels. I'm not sure probate solicitors do offer the free half hour, and the problem is I have copied the will without his consent, so from what the divorce lawyer said it cannot be commented on.

Like most abusive men Northumberlandlass he does have his good points and sometimes I do love him, but as soon as money is mentioned he turns, and is very unloveable.

FinallyHere Thu 31-Mar-16 09:05:46

Agree that you need legal advice, but i cannot imagine how a will would force you to pay the inheritance tax due on legacies to your children. On the death of one of the partners, any assets transferred between spouses are free of inheritance tax.

This would not be an area of expertise of divorce lawyers. I would encourage you to take the will to a lawyer specialising in probate, and ask them for their comments.

Spend your time with the divorce lawyer to establish your position if you decide the get out from under this abuse. Have you looked at the recent change in the law on financial abuse? Worth a look. Giod luck.

peggyundercrackers Thu 31-Mar-16 09:07:43

Why would you tell your solicitor you have copied it without his consent?

As other have said divorce him as he sounds like a complete dick.

mummytime Thu 31-Mar-16 09:24:17

Divorce him.

Okay having your parents divorce during GCSEs etc. Is not ideal.
BUT life cannot be calm and the atmosphere must be pretty bad when: a) Dad has so little care and respect for Mum that he plans to disinherited and financially screw her on death
And for balance b) Mum is considering divorce in the future and seeking legal advice on not being left penniless.

Having two separated parents and hopefully a calm home with no underlying tensions will be far better. It also doesn't sound as if he is trying to protect the DC financially, just mess with you.

If he is mean with money like this I am sure he is pretty awful in other ways.

VertigoNun Thu 31-Mar-16 09:28:53


notquitegrownup2 Thu 31-Mar-16 09:37:47

Radio 4 had an article on contesting wills yesterday. They said it was possible but usually there was mediation between parties and a compromise would be reached. However, the wishes of the deceased would be taken into consideration, so the lawyers would try to abide by the will.

sad for you.. How long until your children take their exams?

QuiteLikely5 Thu 31-Mar-16 09:42:17

Forget wills! Get divorced! But watch out he may well have hidden assets etc or make life super hard for you when it comes to finding out about his finances

hownottofuckup Thu 31-Mar-16 09:42:53


As an aside, how would your DC feel about this? My DM wouldn't have to contest anything with me! It should all go to the surviving parent before being parcelled out to DC.
If my DF did this I'd have a big problem with it.

hollyisalovelyname Thu 31-Mar-16 09:45:48

You have four children with this man.
You were the main breadwinner for 15 years.
And you get treated like this.
Mind boggling.
Do your older children know what a cheapskate their father is?
I am appalled by his treatment of you.

stiffstink Thu 31-Mar-16 09:47:39

You need to speak to a divorce lawyer with knowledge of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 so you know whether you'd be in a better position if you divorced him (I strongly suspect you would).

Technoremix Thu 31-Mar-16 09:55:20

Is he ill and likely to die in the next 2 years before you want to divorce? You could just wait and divorce him when you want to. And then you'll get half of all assets ( or probably more). You may get more if you divorce now though with dependant children. He sounds terrible- do you want your relationship with him to be the model your children emulate? Because if not you might be better divorcing asap.

MrShitsWife Thu 31-Mar-16 10:28:06

I don't know how likely he is to die in the next two years Techno he's fit, slim, eats a healthy diet, doesn't smoke, drink or do much that's fun, so I guess he will go on forever, but he is in his sixties and so his odds are increased.

The children do their exams next year, and ds will be going to college so no more public exams after that. We don't often argue and can rub along most of the time. The children all know he's tight in some ways, but we do live quite a gilded life so it's not obvious to them just how awful he is. We live in the type of house people beg us to sell, one child is at boarding school (they wanted to go), dh's hobby is a posh one full of well connected county types, I have a nice car, we've bought a holiday home and are refurbishing it. Basically everything is in the shop window, underneath is this horrible dark side.

I had heard somewhere that a spouse cannot leave the surviving spouse in a worse position than if they had been divorced, and I guess this was what I was trying to ascertain, if so I can leave divorcing him till after the exams, if not I need to go for it now.

I certainly don't want to be looking after him in old age.

whatevva Thu 31-Mar-16 11:04:12

People can and do leave their spouse in a worse state than if they divorced. There was someone on Woman's Hour whose husband left everything to his children and left her, as second wife, without any support and no means to do anything about it (retired).

I did know people at university whose parents waited for them to got there to get divorced (it was a time when there were fewer divorces, so it probably had more of an effect). They did not appreciate it, and felt that their lives had been part of a lie. They have a lot to do after public exams, so I am not sure it helps to wait. If you want to divorce, it is better to just do it.

Northumberlandlass Thu 31-Mar-16 12:08:44

I got to the end of my tether in early Dec 2014. DS was 11 and for years I had said, I'll wait until he's older etc, made excuse after excuse.

It wasn't ideal, but he now has two happy parents which in turn makes him happier.
Your children will feel awful if they knew you'd purposely made yourself unhappy for their benefit.

prh47bridge Thu 31-Mar-16 12:21:44

i cannot imagine how a will would force you to pay the inheritance tax due on legacies to your children

If you write a will giving fixed legacies to A, B and C with the residue going to D the net effect is that any IHT for the estate is deducted from D's share. What actually happens, of course, is that the IHT is paid, then A, B and C get their legacies which, since they are fixed, are unaffected by the IHT (provided the estate is big enough to give them their legacies after IHT has been paid). D then gets whatever is left.

I had heard somewhere that a spouse cannot leave the surviving spouse in a worse position than if they had been divorced

They can. However, if the will is contested the courts will generally want to leave the surviving spouse in at least as good a position as they would have been had the marriage ended through divorce rather than death.

MrShitsWife Thu 31-Mar-16 12:33:12

I know, it's so easy to keep putting it off, and I also knew a family whose parents divorced once the children were in their twenties and they felt their whole childhood had been a lie.

Once the children are back at school my solicitor is sending a letter about protecting matrimonial assets and freezing some of them. I'll see how that is received.

I need to dig out the will again to see how it is worded, but don't like doing that sort of subterfuge when dh is around.

We had a huge row yesterday when he told me about the new asset being put in his name and realised I was seeing a solicitor. Today he's being ultra nice, talking about allowing me more money etc so he knows the end is nigh. Thank you to everyone who has taken time to respond. It's good to know IANBU.

footballmum Thu 31-Mar-16 12:53:46

I don't think you can contest a will until after someone has died. You really do need advice upon what your rights to the estate would be after his death, and whether this would be affected by divorce. There is the possibility that if you divorce he would re-marry and that would automatically invalidate the will.

Just to clarify a point a PP made - some solicitors will offer a free initial meeting (it won't be an hour) and you may find one who will take a case on a contingency or no-win no-fee basis. I'm sure the lawyer who has been advising you upon your matrimonial rights will have a colleague whom she can refer you to. It seems that your time and money would be best spent in protecting your matrimonial assets now rather than worrying about whether you'd be entitled to them at some point in the future.

cdtaylornats Thu 31-Mar-16 13:04:51

Don't show the lawyer the will, ask a hypothetical question where it's your will and can it be written in such a way as to give the kids everything and bypass your husband.

MrShitsWife Thu 31-Mar-16 13:13:46

I know I can't contest the will until he's dead, but I was just wondering if I could once he is. A back of an envelope calculation makes it look as if I'd get only 9% of the estate value if his will was upheld.

Until my assets are secure I shall be looking after him extra carefully.

IdealWeather Thu 31-Mar-16 13:42:38

There is something I don't understand. Even if the house in only in his name, because you are married and living together for so long (and the fact it's the family home you have contributed too), I thought it would half yours anyway?
Or is it just in case of a divorce but in case of death, then it's whoever's name on that rules?

Cloudhopping Thu 31-Mar-16 13:48:06

With his attitude towards looking after you after his death, I would be worried about the state of your marriage. Im sorry but that's not the will of a husband who loves and cares for his wife.

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