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My Dad is trying to cut my brother out of his will/ inheritance....

(21 Posts)
Legacy Thu 13-Jan-05 14:14:34

Hi there, changed my name for this as it's a bit sensitive, but I would appreciate any thoughts...

Bit of history
- my Mum died a couple of years ago
- my Dad lives on his own, a long way from where we (DH & DS & DD) live
- I also have an older brother (single, gay, no kids)who also lives quite far away from my Dad

Although they appear on 'OK' terms and speak quite regularly, my brother & Dad didn't used to get on particularly well - long story, but stuff about him not doing well at school/ being gay/ getting into debt etc etc

Anyway Dad has recently been sorting out his finances and planning for inheritance tax issues etc and has decided that he wants to transfer ownership of one of two houses he owns to myself, my 2 kids and my brother in equal 25% shares (or a trust or whatever for the kids).
He has also give me a copy of his new will (since my Mum died) which would mean that on the event of his death his estate would be divided in the same way.

He hasn't given my brother a copy, and when I asked why he said beacause my brother didn't need to know.
I told my Dad that although it was generous of him towards our kids, I thought my brother would be rathe upset by it, and that anyway, we didn't need his inheritance as much as my brother might (although in his 40s, my brother lives in rented accommodation and has debts, whereas we have our own house and some savings).
Anyway some of my Dad's true feeligns then came out I think beacause he went on about not wanting my brother to squander his money, and how the (grand)kids education was more important, and how both my brotehr & I had 'had equal chances' and shown what we could make of them...etc etc

I know my brother will be really upset and angry about this if and when he finds out. And I also know that his anger will be directed at me, as he'll assume I have influenced my Dad to do this (which I haven't).

I spoke to a tax advisor friend who said that it was a 'highly unusual' way to split an estate, and that when the time comes, if I wanted to, I could contest the will anyway and suggest a 50/50 split between my brotehr & I.

I know this seems strange to be worrying about this now, but I don't know whether I should be trying to influence my Dad now to change it, or to simply respect his wishes?

Sorry for rambling, but it's really playing on my mind, and I feel like I'm carrying a nasty secret around...

miranda2 Thu 13-Jan-05 14:23:19

I don't think this is as bad or as unusual as you think; my mum has split her estate in her will between her children and grandchildren in a similar way (although there are a lot more of us!). It is only 'unfair' if you are thinking of you and your children as one 'side' of the family getting 75% as opposed to your brother getting 25%; if you think of it as four individuals getting 25% each it is perfectly fair and nothing for him to be upset about. It is your dad's money for him to do what he wants with, your brohter has no right to half of it (he would only be able to contest the will if he was financially dependent on your dad I think).
Just my opinion! But I think as people are dying older, it is getting increasingly common for grandchildren rather than children to do best out of wills.

Sparks Thu 13-Jan-05 14:50:07

If it were me in that position, I would tell my brother about the will and deal with his upset and anger now. Two main reasons for this -
First of all, if brother only finds out after dad's death, it will be much worse to have to have to deal with brother's anger, blame, etc. while also having to deal with my own (and children's) feelings of shock and bereavement following the death. Secondly, I'm like you and don't like keeping "nasty" secrets. I would only tell about the contents of the will, though, not about all those insulting "true feelings" things dad said.

Don't know were you are, but I live in England and when I made out my will a few years ago the solicitor told me that it was hardly ever possible to successfully contest a will, providing that the will was correctly drafted in the first place. It may be that your tax advisor friend is mistaken.

Legacy Thu 13-Jan-05 15:05:33

Miranda - tbh I tend to agree with you, that it's up to my Dad what he wants to do with it, and I can't pretend that any inheritance might not be useful - even if it is many years from now (hopefully)

Sparks - i know what you mean, the thing is that knowing my brother, he will assume that if I tell him, then I am doing it out of 'spite'. Really, I need my Dad to have a frank chat with him, but I very much doubt that is going to happen.

If Dad transfers ownership of his 2nd house before his death, there is an added complication, in that my brother once lived there and still has furniture and locked room loads of stuff there! He claims that when my Mum was alive he was told that this house was his if ever he wanted it. I mentioned to my dad that my br had onec said this to me, and my Dad was adament that he'd never said any such thing....

My Dad was all for going into this house and 'getting rid' of all the stuff - it was only because I persuaded him not to and to talk to my brother first that stopped him....

urgh - I feel so caught up in the middle....

tigermoth Thu 13-Jan-05 15:13:34

legacy, you seem to feel your brother isn't really an awful person. I guess if you did think he was heartless, evil or moneygrabbing you would not be agonising over this. Not doing well at school and getting into debt aren't exactly crimes - and being gay is certainly not.

It sounds like there is a major personality clash between your brother and your father. I guess you can try and persuade your brother to do more, and try and get your father to amend his will, but in the end you are powerless. You could write them both letters, stating your feelings, and keep copies so you can show your brother what your intentions were. But if he sees your father confided in you about the wills, this could upset him more.

If a solicitor has told you that you can give your brother more of the inheritance after your father dies, at least the money aspect is in your hands. I don't kow much about these things, but agree with miranda that your brother can't automatically expect a 50% share.

I suppose one problem is that in the eyes of your brother it could look like your dad loves you more than him.like Is that really what your dad wants your brother to think? Could you point this out to your father if you have not already done so? If, for instance, he left you and your brother 30% each and 20% each to your children, then it puts you and your brother on more of an equal footing, and it wouldn't alter your dad's will too much. Anyway, I am totally unqualified to give advice so will stop there .

I do know of someone whose father left him nothing as he felt he hadn't worked hard enough in his life. He left all his estate to his stepchildren. So I know it happens

tigermoth Thu 13-Jan-05 15:18:23

re contesting wills: my friend tried to contest the will for years. His father's previous will has left everything to him ( ie a large house in Kensington). The father married two years before he died and changed his will six months before his death. I think my friend got a token payoff via his stepmother, in the end, but had no valid claim to the estate.

Pamina3 Thu 13-Jan-05 15:22:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Legacy Thu 13-Jan-05 15:29:15

Tigermoth - no, you're right, I don't think my brother is a bad guy at all, however nor do I have much to do with him really. I do feel that he ahs a problem with 'living in the real world' sometimes, and in some sense I can also empathise with what my Dad is doing and saying..
for e.g.
- my brother has had belongings in the '2nd house' for about 10 years now, but stays there less than 10 weeks a year. his stuff and the general 'state' of it means that neither my Dad or my family could or would want to use it. However my Dad has been paying most of the bills while it has lain empty.
When I suggested to my brother once that Dad might want to sell it to buy a house closer to my family (more expensive area) my bro accused me of being heartless and trying to oust him out of his home (???)
Similar reaction when I suggested to my Dad that he could redecorate it and rent it out (but would require for my bro's stuff to be moved...) to make a small income
I'm angry on behalf of my Dad that my brother has just taking advantage of his goodwill (and what was the influence of my Mum while she was alive - she just didn't want to have any family arguments!)

Sparks Thu 13-Jan-05 15:29:18

It could very well be that Legacy's dad wants her brother to think that he loves her more.

If your dad goes ahead and transfers the ownership of the house as planned, wouldn't your brother find out then that only 25% has been given to him?

You really are caught in the middle, aren't you?

ladymuck Thu 13-Jan-05 15:29:27

Agree with Pamina re deed of variation. Also it isn't uncommon for one side of the family to get more if they have more descendants. Presumably your brother does not/will not have children, and therefore on his death any inheritance may go outside of the family. Your father may want his money to benefit his offspring in the longer term, and giving directly to the next generation is one way of doing this.

We have explicitly requested that one set of our parents should include our sons instead of us in their wills. We don't need the money that much, but don't want any additional tax hit if we pass it on.

Legacy Thu 13-Jan-05 15:32:02

[quick disclaimer to reassure everyone - please feel free to post safe in the knowledge that I will NOT take any advice exclusively from anyone and act on, nor will I assume anyone here has any legal qualifications or knowledge WHATSOEVER !!!!]

Legacy Thu 13-Jan-05 15:35:38

Sparks - yes - i think you're right....
I think Dad is using this as a bit of a final 'parting shot' at my brother (which is terrible...) (but I can also understand why IYSWIM...)
and 2) yes my brother WILL find out about the house at least if Dad transfers ownership - and then what should I do anyway.... owning 75% of a house that is currently non-saleable (in my opinion) and with an angry and potentially 'sitting squatter'....

miranda2 Thu 13-Jan-05 18:38:58

V. tricky about the house - not sure you'd be able to do anything....
Re the 'deed of variation', I'm no expert but surely you wouldn't be able to get all the parties to agree if two of them are your children? Unless they were over 16 or 18 or something by the time your father died, I imagine the courts wouldn't let you choose to disadvantage them financially?
I think telling your brother could very easily come over as crowing, however you put it - it would be easily misinterpreted. But I do think that if your father is going to transfer ownership of the house he should tell your brother first! Maybe you could push that aspect of it with him, rather than the will bit? Or get him to sell the house and then do what he wants with the cash now?

aloha Thu 13-Jan-05 19:06:29

I don't think the will is unfair, actually. As Miranda put it so well, it's not about two 'sides' to a family, it's about four individuals being treated equally. Your kid's money will be theirs, not yours. And anyway, 25% of two properties plus a quarter of any cash left looks like a very tidy legacy to me. I wouldn't say no!
I do agree that transferring the ownership of the house does sound tricky if your brother is likely to be unreasonable and resentful about his 25% share, unless his debts etc will make him keen to get his hands on the cash and you agree to sell it, with him getting a quarter of the proceeds (which unless the house is a hovel in the back of beyond is likely to be a very useful lump sum indeed - possibly enough to allow him to buy a flat of his own with a small mortgage). And if he is angry or resentful, I think it is important to realise those are his feelings which he has to take responsibility for, not yours (sorry about the therapy-speak but you know what I mean). You aren't responsible for him, or for your dad come to that. They are two adult individuals.

aloha Thu 13-Jan-05 19:07:55

I really, really don't think this will is unfair, honestly.

Piffle Thu 13-Jan-05 19:21:41

I have been cut out of my mothers will as has my younger brother.
My youngest brother is due the lot!
My brother has said at the time whenever it comes he will do what he sees as fairest at the time and possibly turn it over to our children. although I'm the only one of us with kids at the moment.
I'd perhaps think about telling your brother now and possibly saying that you might be open to discussion about how your inheritance could benefit him when the time comes.
Your dads reason are pretty fair, (compared to my mums that is) and it might encourage some dialogue and some positive things could come out of it.
Wishing you hugs though as it awful to be stuck in the middle

Freckle Thu 13-Jan-05 19:28:18

Perhaps you could point out to your dad that he will simply be leaving a mess which will rebound on you, if he leaves his will like - although I have to agree that I don't think the will is particularly unfair on your brother.

At the end of the day, if your dad refuses to change his will, there will be nothing to stop you giving some of your share to your brother to "even things up", if that's what you want.

tigermoth Thu 13-Jan-05 21:36:11

I agree with miranda - your dad should tell your brother about his 25% share when he transfers the house over to you. At least that lets you off the hook. Your father presumably doesn't want you to suffer or want you and your brother to fall out after his death. At worst, his will could cause a permanent rift. Could you use this as a way of persuading your dad to talk to your brother?

Your brother has made use of the house for many years, rent and bill free. He has actively prevented your father from getting an income from the house. Could your father remind him of this?

Do you feel though, that knowledge of the will would cause major ructions between your brother and your father? is this something you want to avoid during your father's liftetime? Oh this is very difficult.

I guess you need to know your brother's expectations of his legacy. Has it crossed his mind that your father might include his grandchildren? could you do some very subtle digging around?

Piffle - re your younger brother's legacy. Wqhat a horrible familiy situation for you all.

princesspeahead Thu 13-Jan-05 22:06:01

At the end of the day your father is free to dispose of his property however he likes in his will, as everyone says. However I don't think it is your job to tell your db about it, if your father isn't going to. Apart from anything else, your father may well change it again in a few years if his feelings change. And if you do tell your db about it, and it causes a huge rumpus, and your dad cuts him out completely, how will you feel then?
I think just let your dad know how you feel (I think youve already done that actually) and leave it at that.
Your tax advisor friend isn't really right - you wouldn't be contesting the will if you wanted your brother to have more - you would either disclaim your portion (in which case it would be divided between your two children and your db equally, so they would end up a third a third a third each) or you could just gift your portion to him. I THINK that if you do the first, it is more tax advantageous (it never comes into your ownership so there transfer is deemed to come straight from your father to your db and children under the will) whereas the second does touch your ownership so you then have to live 7 years before your gift to your brother is free of the risk of taxation. But I'm not completely sure of that, you should ask a tax person. Not the one you already talked to!

Your brother could possibly contest the will but he would only be likely to be successful if he was a dependent of your fathers, AND the court felt he hadn't properly been provided for. If he is an adult child in good health etc then he probably isn't a dependent and anyway a quarter of the estate is probably as much as he could hope for.

If you want to prove to your db that you didn't influence your dad, why don't you write your dad a short letter setting out that you think he should think again about giving your family more than your db, but of course you respect his decision whatever way, and keep a copy.

good luck! would have been better if your dad had kept this to himself, frankly.

Legacy Thu 13-Jan-05 22:06:19

Thanks - this has all been very helpful.

I can't remember who asked what, but here are some of the answers....

- my brother certainly has an expectation that he would get 50% or even ALL of the value of the No.2 house (which is probably worth about £80k)
I can't imagine that he'd expect grandchildren to be included - he himself doesn't areally acknowledge his nephew & neice (my kids) - he's never sent them any birthday/ christmas cards or presents, and has only met them once ( the eldest is 6 !!) . but then as you say, that's his problem really...

- yes, he does has debts, and may be motivated to sell it to pay these off and get a deposit for his own place - good idea, whoever suggested that!

It's interesting to hear that many people feel it is quite a fair will - when you think about it in 'individual terms I suppose you're right.

I think I need to sit down with a proper tax advisor and work out Dad's options for him (this is the other awkward part - my Dad has basically asked DH & I to help him sort out his financial stuff...)

Legacy Thu 13-Jan-05 22:08:26

(sorry for loads of typos there... should have previewed - oops )

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