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Promises in word only..................

24 replies

TryingNotToBeBothered · 14/03/2005 23:54

Have had to change my name for this as it's v sensitive and people know me in rl.

It's longish, so bear with me!

Dh's dad died a couple of years ago. His Dad and Mum divorced some years ago, and whilst dh's Mum never remarried, dh's Dad did.

I'll call him my FIL now as it's easier!

We saw quite a bit of my FIL and his wife; Christmases etc and were on good terms.

A couple of weeks before he died, my FIL called dh and my sil in to see him in hospital. He spoke to them separately, telling them he had discussed his will with his wife and he was going to leave some money to his children (my dh and my sil). He indicated this would be a substantial sum (in excess of £500,000 each). My father in law said he wanted to secure his childrens' and his grandchildrens' future by doing this.

Despite this being a life changing amount of money, it's not the sort of thing you want to discuss at emotional and sensitive times, so little more was said about it at the time.

After my fil's death, it became clear that his will did not reflect what he had promised his children. Dh and my sil were left nothing, although the day after the funeral, my FIL's wife told them to look around the house and choose a piece of furniture. Neither wished, nor felt capable of doing this as they were still reeling from the death of their father.

If my FIL had said nothing, dh would have happily accepted that his father intended to leave him nothing. However, given the v specific promises made, dh decided to set in motion contesting the will. He talked to his sister about doing this and she was supportive. He got to a certain point with it, and then decided not to pursue it any further. There were grounds to contest (too long and complicated to go in to here), but it was potentially a long, costly and stressful business. We've been through quite a lot of trauma over the last few years and decided that whilst it would have solved all our financial problems if my FIL's promise had come good, we could not cope with the fight to make that verbal promise come good.

So, it became water under the bridge and we've carried on as usual.

However, since my FIL's wife has discovered that she is " safe" from the will being contested, she's done 1 or 2 things that have bothered me, because whilst I understand she might be pissed off with dh (for considering contesting the will), I don't like what seem to be attempts to treat my small children unfairly. I have remained on friendly ( albeit distant) terms with her (occasional emails, cards etc). Last Christmas she said she was sending some money for my children. It didn't arrive. I have since found out that she has visited my SIL out of the blue and given her money for her child.

Dh says she is trying to drive a wedge between him and his sister.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't about the money, it's about treating all of my FIL's grandchildren fairly. If satsuma's are being given out, they should all get the same each.

Am I being pathetic about all this?

I want to just ignore it all, but feel v wound up because a) I only ever make promises I can keep and b) I want my children treated fairly.

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JoolsToo · 15/03/2005 00:04

your story apart - I cannot, for the life of me, understand why anyones partner (will or no will) would not want to share the inheritance with the deceaseds children - I really can't get my head round it at all.

TryingNotToBeBothered · 15/03/2005 00:21

Jools, thanks so much for responding .

I don't understand it either. The estate was substantial, there was more than enough to share. I don't understand why my FIL said those things to his children and talked of securing his grandchildrens (2 of whom are my children) future.

He knew his life was at an end and he seemed to be wanting to ensure all those he loved would benefit from his hard work.

I so wish he had said nothing.

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Ags · 15/03/2005 00:22

I think you and your dh have behaved admirably in this and the fact that you have maintained a contact at all with your fil's wife is good.

Agree totally that it is more than unfair to treat young children in this way. What a nasty thing to do.

You are not being pathetic at all IMO. Don't understand how people can be so insensitive.

What do you feel like doing? What are your options here? ARe you the type of person who would feel comfortable telling her how this made you feel or does that make you cringe? The thing is her behaviour is upsetting you but she is probably unaware of this.

Write more if you can.

HUNKERMUNKER · 15/03/2005 00:29

TNTBB, this is horrible. I think you have several options.

The first is to contest the will, which I understand will be a difficult thing to do, but it will end in a definite resolution.

The second is to talk to her, tell her you could contest the will and will do so if she doesn't reach an agreement with you and see if she realises she'll get a better 'deal' if she sorts things out privately.

The third is to do nothing, let it wash over you and hope she doesn't up the ante by doing more unfair things.

I'd be tempted to go for option two. Good luck with it though - I know how vile these things can be. It does sound as though your FIL wanted to provide for his grandchildren - maybe mention that if you go for option two as well.

JoolsToo · 15/03/2005 00:30

I understand - its so difficult because it's not about the money but your feel awful because there's money involved - its just so unjust - I really feel for you.

Did she know they'd had that conversation? Surely she's want to respect his wishes?

TryingNotToBeBothered · 15/03/2005 00:32

Me and dh want to put it all behind us.

My FIL's wife has spoken to a number of family members, saying how awful dh has been to treat her in this way (daring to contest the will).

If we had no children, he would have just left it. But because my FIL was pretty clear about wanting to give his grandchildren a legacy, dh felt he couldn't just sit back and do nothing.

I've said to him that I think his Dad's intentions were honourable on the day that they spoke together and that dh should always try to remember that.

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HUNKERMUNKER · 15/03/2005 00:34

Sounds to me like she's covering her back, trying t oblacken your name with the rest of the family. I'd be very tempted to contest the will, but can understand why you might not want to.

TryingNotToBeBothered · 15/03/2005 00:37

My FIL's wife was told by dh and my sil of the conversations that had taken place about the will. She laughed and said he was just boasting, but didn't mean it.

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HUNKERMUNKER · 15/03/2005 00:39

She sounds like a real piece of work. If I were in your DH's position, I'd contest it - simply because if my dad had said that to me as his last wish, I'd have wanted it carried through.

JoolsToo · 15/03/2005 00:39


NO! she didn't? You're on a hiding to nothing with that one!

Didn't you get on with her?

TryingNotToBeBothered · 15/03/2005 00:43

It's too late now to go through with fully contesting it - there's a deadline by which you must submit your formal claim. Dh stopped short of it because we have v little money to mount a claim, whilst she has substantial assets to defend her position.

I'd hoped that would be an end to it, but she is still doing/saying unpleasant things so that dh seems like the bad guy.

It's my children being treated unfairly, compared to the other grandchildren that really bothers me, but I know I have to be mature and rise above it!

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JoolsToo · 15/03/2005 00:45

sorry but its your dh I feel sorry for - he and his dad were blood, this isn't even his mother - I'd be fuming!

HUNKERMUNKER · 15/03/2005 00:47

In that case, I'd be tempted to talk to your SIL and say what you suspect is happening. How well do you/she get on with this old witch? Would your SIL think you were being peculiar? Or has she had run-ins with this woman before?

Would she say anything?

TryingNotToBeBothered · 15/03/2005 00:58

Jools -I/We got on with her fine.

Things suddenly went strange when she knew my FIL was dying.

On one of our last visits, I got an insight into her character, which perhaps explains a lot.

My father in law was v ill, but he wanted to be at home as much as possible (didn't want to die in hospital), so she was caring for him at home, with nurses coming in regularly.

On one of the nights, she came in to the dining room and brought with her my FIL's walkie talkie - he was using this to call for help if he needed something as he was pretty much bedridden.

She said she had confiscated it because "he didn't need it". It's a very big house - not the sort of place where you can shout from another room.

When me and dh went to bed, he wept in my arms, saying that he would never rob his father of his means to ask for help, when he was so ill and vulnerable. My FIL wasn't a demanding man - he wasn't constantly asking for his pillows to be plumped etc.

It seems very cold hearted to me to treat your dying husband in this way - there were plenty of close family members in the house, perfectly willing to help/fetch/carry.

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TryingNotToBeBothered · 15/03/2005 01:01

HM, my dh has talked to my sil/his sister. She cannot bear the woman, but I think wants to keep a quiet life, so when she turned up out of the blue, trying to be friendly, she just let her get on with it IYSWIM.

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HUNKERMUNKER · 15/03/2005 01:05

I'd be tempted then to talk to your SIL, tell her that in order to have a quiet life, it may need to be a bit noisy in the immediate future.

Then somehow get this creature over to talk to both you, DH and SIL and say that it's all very well that she has this pot of cash, but none of you appreciates the way she's carrying on. Tell her that any favouritism in the future won't be accepted.

I don't really see why any of you needs to have contact with her anyway?

Bloody hard though - for your DH xxxxxx

TryingNotToBeBothered · 15/03/2005 01:11

The whole thing really stinks. I'm so upset for dh. He's such a lovely guy and didn't deserve being treated like this. I'm v upset for him and feel my lioness claws threatening to come out on behalf of my babies.

I know we have to try and let it wash over us. I wish she'd just accept that she has tons of money and no longer needs to contact any members of her dead husband's family.

Hopefully she'll clear off to somewhere like Barbados permanently and leave us all alone.

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JoolsToo · 15/03/2005 01:13

don't tell me anymore - I may spontaneously combust!

TryingNotToBeBothered · 15/03/2005 09:44

lol Jools.

Seriously though, it is v hard to accept, but she also seems to delight in rubbing everyones noses "in it" so to speak.

When you are in the middle of something like this, it's difficult to work out whether you have a "right" to feel upset and aggrieved. We're pretty straightforward people and have found the underhandedness of it all really unpleasant.

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JoolsToo · 15/03/2005 09:52

the sad thing about it all (I think) is that it sullies the memory of your dh's dad and you start to question her feelings for him.

Being me, I think I'd have probably have told her a few home truths by now (but that probably wouldn't be wise!)

Hope this all gets resolved amicably.

moschops · 15/03/2005 10:01

ooooooo this has made me so mad.

but i understand where you are coming from, i suppose if there weren't any children involved it would be easy to speak your mind very loudly, but you have to keep the peace for the sake of a quiet life.

i don't really know what to suggest, other than talking to SIL and airing your concerns.

hope you can resolve this in some manner........

Freckle · 15/03/2005 10:13

Are you sure that FIL's will was his last will? Lots of people change their wills or do fresh ones as circumstances change. Do you know the date of the will or whether he may have left a later one? Difficult to suss out, I suppose. Also, it might be worth checking with the solicitor who drew up the will whether he challenged the will in any way. Solicitors normally check with a client whether they intend to exclude any child/ren from their wills and, when there is a remarriage, are under a duty of care to ensure that children are not disinherited unless that is the express wish of the client.

TryingNotToBeBothered · 15/03/2005 10:33

What happened with the will/wills was v strange.

My FIL's previous will was written about 4 years before he died. At that time, he did not have a terminal illness. It left everything to his wife.Dh knew about this and accepted they were his Dad's wishes at the time.

Then, when he knew he was close to dying, my FIL told both his children he had rethought his will and now wanted to make provision for them.

My FIL's wife, acting on behalf of him (he was too ill by this stage to do anything himself), instructed his solicitor to prepare a new will and bring it to hospital for my FIL to sign. The night he signed it, the doctors advised his wife he was unlikely to make it through the night.

Dh knew this new will had been done and assumed that his father's change of wishes had been incorporated.

After his death, it emerged that the new will didn't incorporate any of the changes promised my by FIL.

Dh's solicitor (very experienced in this area) said what happened is v odd, as the previous will was completely valid. Why make a new one saying exactly the same thing? The will itself is hard to challenge, because it was also witnessed by my FIL's gp who said he was able to understand what was being read to him (too ill to read it himself).

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TryingNotToBeBothered · 15/03/2005 20:06

I'd really appreciate hearing anyone elses experiences that might be similar - until I started writing about this yesterday, I hadn't realised how stressed out I was about it.

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