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Contesting a will

Just can't get this off my mind. I wish I had a switch to do that in my brain.

Dad died. He was happily married to Mum until late 70's when Mum died.

I was pleased he remarried, he was happy, and I liked her.

Our 'family home' was always said, whaterver, to be for me and my sister 'at the end of the day'.

Dad moved from our family home and bought a new one for himself and his new wife.

All in his name btw, not owned or shared with the new wife. Land Registry shows he is the sole owner. The new wife sold her house and invested (stupid Nationwide Savings Account at .05%) the cash.

They did have mirrored wills.. I don't know what exactly that was, but I have heard that it might have been one third, one third from my father. I am sure you can work that out, but not sure what the wife's mirror bit would be beings she has 4 children from a previous marriage.

Just 18 months ago he changed his will without telling his wife, along with a doc's letter stating he was of sound mind.

His new will stated that wife can stay in the property as long as she lives and when she dies it goes to my sister and me. It is in Trust to that effect.

She has to maintain the propery herself and insure it.

So.....

Now she is contesting the will on two counts.

1. That she has not been provided for.

2. The preperation of the new Will. (Which she had no idea about)

She has also stated that she wishes any visits or calls by 'the family' have to have reasonable time and must be conducted through her solicitor.

I asked her, after Dad died, if she was OK for money.. She said she was.

AFAIK she had income from one or maybe two pensions my Dad had, and her pension from the state, totalling of around £1000 a month.

How do I stand on this, will we lose this claim? For sure she will change her Will now to leave all to her children leaving me and my sister nothing at all.

Thanks for looking at this, and is there anything I need to do right now?
I don't post much, but when I do it's all good!! :beer:
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Replies

  • dzug1dzug1 Forumite
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    She can certainly ask for reasonable provision out of the estate, being his dependent wife at the time of his death, with a high chance of success. What that provision should consist of is a difficult question

    I don't see any reason for the disposition of the house to be any different - ie still on life trust. After that it depends very much on what other assets your father left. Unless not very much I doubt if it would be all of them.

    What you need to do right now is to talk to your solicitor.
  • BigglesBiggles Forumite
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    It must have come as a bit of a shock to her to find the will had been changed without telling her. Sounds very odd, things can't have been going well.

    But I'm unclear what you are concerned about. Like dzug1, I can't see any change to the situation re the house, she can live there free of charge.

    I doubt that it's particularly surprising if a widow chooses to leave her belongings to her own children rather than step-children, though it depends how you all got on with her. Not too well, by the looks of it.
  • NARNAR Forumite
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    She is in effect getting free board and lodgings and your Dad's pensions, as well as having the money from the sale of her house. That would sound like reasonable provision to me. Can't see the house in trust for you two being varied.
    Agree with other posters that she can do what she likes, will wise, with her possessions and money (excluding house).

    These are my thoughts and I agree you should get legal view on this. I would use your father's solicitor that drew the will up. If she is unsuccessful she will find this a very expensive adventure. Have you any idea if this is her idea to challenge will, or her children's perhaps?
  • McKneffMcKneff Forumite
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    Your father has been sensible. Perhaps they werent getting on and maybe he thought if he left everything to her then she would just leave everything then to her own children. Cutting you out altogether.

    Best to seek proper legal advice.

    And heres to your dad :beer:
    make the most of it, we are only here for the weekend.
    and we will never, ever return.
  • Sammie_Sammie_ Forumite
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    Thankyou so much for your replies above.

    I am not at all bothered not to receive anything of my Dad's wife's estate. I am not expecting anything anyway.

    My biggest concern is that the house would have to be sold to pay for her to 'be provided for'.

    My other concern is that if she is challenging the preparation of the will, then if it is revoked, it will go back to the mirror will.

    It might be the case that he has left everything to the wife. She then changes her mirror will leaving everything to her family. That would then leave us nothing at all!

    Does anybody have any idea what could be wrong with the preparation of the will? I have checked and it does have his signature on there along with two witnesses.
    I don't post much, but when I do it's all good!! :beer:
  • SystemSystem Forumite, Community Admin
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    If she fights the will then she will be in very great danger of losing the house NOW. Contesting wills isn't cheap and the money will come out of the estate so there is a danger of the house having to be sold to pay the legal fees. Unless she has really solid grounds (I wouldn't think the inability to sell the house would not be good grounds. Apart from the house she is getting the rest of your father's estate) then her chances of winning are slim, however it will still probably cost the estate in legal fees.

    Lose-lose for her, win-win for the legal profession
  • Sammie_Sammie_ Forumite
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    Now I am surprised that her legal fees come out of the estate. There was not much residue, Dad didn't have any major savings, just a few shares. What was left was to be split three ways between his wife and his two daughters amounting to maybe less than 8K after funeral and (up to now) solicitor fees.

    We have always got on really well with his wife, and Dad seemed happy with her too, so I am at a loss to know what it is she acually wants!

    It is fine for her to move to downsize, the house would be sold and another bought and left in trust with any residue put into trust for the rest of her life.
    I don't post much, but when I do it's all good!! :beer:
  • edited 29 February 2012 at 6:07PM
    SeniorSamSeniorSam Forumite
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    edited 29 February 2012 at 6:07PM
    Sammie,

    Only if she were to win her case, which I feel is very doubtful indeed, would costs come from the estate, in which case, if the win was to move back to mirrored Wills, she may also be loosing from that.

    In my mind, you and your sister will still retain the value of the house as your father wished and depending on your circumstances, you may be able to claim legal costs from the State, but that's not my expertise.

    Don't worry, but do speak with the solicitors who drew up the Will for your father as HIS expertise may be tested and if not sound, which your father was relying upon, he may face claims from you and your sister.

    Good luck

    Sam
    I'm a retired IFA who specialised for many years in Inheritance Tax, Wills and Trusts. I cannot offer advice now, but my comments here and on Legal Beagles as Sam101 are just meant to be helpful. Do ask questions from the Members who are here to help.
  • edited 29 February 2012 at 6:52PM
    xylophonexylophone Forumite
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    edited 29 February 2012 at 6:52PM
    The house belonged to your father - he has left it in trust for the children of his first marriage. This is a very common arrangement. He ensured that there could be no dispute as to his having been "of sound mind". There was no obligation for him to have discussed his will with his wife or anybody else.
    In allowing her to live in the house and with her receiving his pensions she has been "provided for" as far as I can see. I would be very surprised if she won her case.http://www.disputed-will.co.uk/news/?p=1
    See also http://www.primewills.co.uk/will_writers_cambridge.htm under "Right of Residence clause and Life Interest of Residue Trust".
  • getmore4lessgetmore4less Forumite
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    Talk to the executors and find out what they are doing about it.
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