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  • FIRST POST
    • gll5dm
    • By gll5dm 9th May 17, 8:51 AM
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    gll5dm
    Very difficult situation regarding grandmother's will
    • #1
    • 9th May 17, 8:51 AM
    Very difficult situation regarding grandmother's will 9th May 17 at 8:51 AM
    Hi all,

    I!!!8217;d appreciate any advice anybody may have on this. It will be quite longer winded, so thanks in advance if you!!!8217;re prepared to read and reply.

    My grandmother died 20 years ago and left money to her daughter (my mother), and her four grandchildren (me, my two brothers and the son of her second husband!!!8217;s son whom she didn!!!8217;t know).
    When she died !!!8211; and I don!!!8217;t know how it happened !!!8211; the solicitor in charge of her will told us we had all been left X amount. Let!!!8217;s say 30k each for the sake of argument. This money would only be accessible for those under 25 (everybody apart from my mother) if there was a valid reason, for example a school trip, a first car, study fees, etc.

    It couldn!!!8217;t just be given out willy-nilly, so to speak, aside from my mother!!!8217;s share which she was given right away and used for home improvements and a nice family holiday.

    The fourth grandchild that my grandmother didn!!!8217;t know was left twice as much as her own daughter, as, prior to the death of my grandmother!!!8217;s second husband, he!!!8217;d had a huge argument with his son and cut him out of the will and left that share to his grandson, essentially giving him two shares and everybody else one.

    This went on for a decade, before the solicitor retired and passed it on to a different company, who then told us the conditions were actually completely different, and that the money was being saved in !!!8220;stocks and shares!!!8221; and was being kept in a fund, not divided up between everybody but rather available for everybody to access if they had a valid reason, which I find completely crazy.

    The parents of the fourth grandchild were given permission to take an interest-free loan of 30k from the will around 10 years ago, and have seemingly only just paid it back recently, while the final two grandchildren (the fourth one plus my younger brother) will turn 25 next year. Once this happens, I have been told by the solicitor, any funds remaining will be split four ways between us.

    I have also been told that those over 25 cannot access any further funds until the final grandchild reaches 25, so myself and my older brother essentially need to sit and wait and see whether the fourth grandchild makes a request for further funds, even though he!!!8217;s received far, far more than even my grandmother!!!8217;s only child.
    We assume he!!!8217;ll be doing all he can do drain as much from what remains (around 40k) in the fund, in the knowledge that once he passes 25 he!!!8217;ll have to do as we are doing now, which is sit and wait for my younger brother to turn 25 which happens a few months later next year.

    Does anybody have any advice here? This guy has received an awful lot of money from the will of a grandmother he didn!!!8217;t even know, while my mother who has been scrimping and saving for years could end up without a further penny from what her mother left behind.

    We need to somehow get access to these funds to stop this guy from draining even more than he already has. It appears my younger brother is the only one who can access them, given that only he is under 25. I!!!8217;d love nothing more than to be able to hand my !!!8216;share!!!8217; of what!!!8217;s left over (currently around 10k per person) to my mother, but know this fourth grandchild can request funds for another year over and over again until there is nothing left.

    Thanks for any advice and tips.
    Last edited by gll5dm; 15-05-2018 at 5:59 AM.
Page 2
    • gll5dm
    • By gll5dm 9th May 17, 3:59 PM
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    gll5dm
    It does sound odd, and therefore would benefit from independent legal advice. Potentially the prior trustee could be liable for administrating the trust incorrectly (if current trustee is correct) - because that is a whopper of a error. Or explore if it is possible to put a pause on the Trust paying out by challenging it.
    Originally posted by Gilead
    Exactly! It's horrific and leaves it wide open to being emptied to those who were of the right age when the true terms of the trust fund were revealed.

    I'll hopefully be getting some info on it tonight as my mother has paperwork at home; I've asked her to find old documents from the previous trustee who told everybody there is an equal share, etc, and also to dig out the paperwork from the current trustee plus the actual will itself.

    Thanks again for your input, greatly appreciated.
    • Sea Shell
    • By Sea Shell 9th May 17, 4:00 PM
    • 2,402 Posts
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    Sea Shell
    What a strange situation to find yourself in. I'm sorry I can't offer advise, just curious.

    So could it have been the case (if you'd known at the time) that the eldest, whilst still under 25 could have applied to the trustees for unlimited funds from the trust, and if they'd agreed, been given access to the whole lot??? - Which is essentially what you think the youngest might now do.

    Be interesting to see the full terms of the trust as you say.
    " That pound I saved yesterday, is a pound I don't have to earn tomorrow " JOB DONE!!
    This should now read "It's time to start digging up those Squirrelled Nuts"!!!
    • gll5dm
    • By gll5dm 9th May 17, 4:04 PM
    • 112 Posts
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    gll5dm
    What a strange situation to find yourself in. I'm sorry I can't offer advise, just curious.

    So could it have been the case (if you'd known at the time) that the eldest, whilst still under 25 could have applied to the trustees for unlimited funds from the trust, and if they'd agreed, been given access to the whole lot???

    Be interesting to see the full terms of the trust as you say.
    Originally posted by Sea Shell
    Typical of my family to be honest. Wouldn't be surprised (I've never seen paperwork) if my mother made a gigantic mess of it all those years ago and passed on the wrong info, but she's always insisted the old trustee explaining to her how it works with the equal share thing, etc.

    Also yes. The new trustee told my mother recently along the lines of anybody can take a loan from the fund so long as it's paid back by the time the youngest turns 25 (as long as you're under 25, of course!) and it's completely open to those under 25 as and when they need it. She also said anybody (I'm assuming while under 25) could have applied to use the fund as a deposit on a house. Absolutely unreal!

    It's a complete and utter kock up from top to bottom and it looks like myself and my older brother are the ones to lose out on it.

    But I will do all I can to ensure the younger two do not simply drain the funds because they can.
    Last edited by gll5dm; 09-05-2017 at 4:06 PM.
    • Manxman in exile
    • By Manxman in exile 9th May 17, 5:29 PM
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    Manxman in exile
    Wouldn't be surprised (I've never seen paperwork) if my mother made a gigantic mess of it all those years ago and passed on the wrong info, but she's always insisted the old trustee explaining to her how it works with the equal share thing, etc.

    Also yes. The new trustee told my mother recently along the lines of anybody can take a loan from the fund so long as it's paid back by the time the youngest turns 25 (as long as you're under 25, of course!) and it's completely open to those under 25 as and when they need it. She also said anybody (I'm assuming while under 25) could have applied to use the fund as a deposit on a house. Absolutely unreal!

    Originally posted by gll5dm

    Going from my own personal experience in family matters I'm afraid it may well be possible that your mother misunderstood what the original trustee explained to her or may have forgotten or otherwise was confused as to what she was told. No criticism of your mother intended - it can very easily happen.


    As others have posted, you'll only know when you see the terms of the trust.


    Out of curiosity, you mention a couple of times under 25s being able to borrow from the fund so long as it is repaid before the youngest attains 25. I'm a bit confused as to whether you are complaining that loans have been made but not repaid (thus depleting the fund) or that you and your siblings didn't take advantage of these terms because you weren't aware or didn't understand?


    (I'm no expert in these areas so apologies to the posters on here with far more knowledge than me if this a stupid question! But I am curious.)
    Last edited by Manxman in exile; 09-05-2017 at 5:31 PM. Reason: spelling & correction
    • gll5dm
    • By gll5dm 9th May 17, 6:19 PM
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    gll5dm
    Hi, thanks for adding your thoughts!

    I'll find out shortly as my mother claims to have found the will and will Skype call me to discuss it.

    Anyway, yes, we were not aware of this mysterious under 25 rule so of course only ever requested money from the funds when absolutely necessary, as I wrote earlier assumedly in the knowledge that the rest of our share would be paid some time in the future. However since we're now over 25 and the rules appear to have changed or simply finally explained clearer (still unsure which) we stand to potentially lose out on thousands and thousands if the two who ARE still under 25 lay claim to every last penny in the trust, as there seems to be no rule which prevents them from only requesting X amount...
    • securityguy
    • By securityguy 9th May 17, 7:06 PM
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    securityguy
    The 25 years does not apply. Any of the bneficiaries of the trust entitled can demand their share at 18 despite what the trust deed says. Even so it would be difficult and expensive to force the trustees to do this.
    Originally posted by Yorkshireman99
    It depends on whether it's a discretionary trust. Saunders v Vautier may not apply.
    • gll5dm
    • By gll5dm 9th May 17, 8:14 PM
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    gll5dm
    So, this is the will in more detail.

    Just some brief info to help you understand more.

    - The stepson referred to in the first pic was cut out of the will and his share given to the step-grandson
    - The daughter received a lump sum upon my grandmother's death and is due no further money
    - The three other grandsons are 23, 31 and 35 years old






    So can anybody make out from that why the solicitor I spoke to says myself (31) and my older brother (35) are no longer able to access the trust fund? We certainly haven't received anywhere near 1/4 of the total amount that was in there, and I do not see anything in the will saying once we reach 25 we cannot make any further requests ...

    Thanks for any help
    Last edited by gll5dm; 09-05-2017 at 8:31 PM.
    • securityguy
    • By securityguy 9th May 17, 8:55 PM
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    securityguy
    I am not a lawyer. Even if I were, I am not _your_ lawyer. That said:

    5.2.5 (and other things, but this one for sure) means Saunders v Vautier does not apply.

    The stuff about not being eligible to receive benefits from the trust once you turn 25 is nonsense (on my reading).

    5.3.5 means you are completely screwed.
    • gll5dm
    • By gll5dm 9th May 17, 8:58 PM
    • 112 Posts
    • 73 Thanks
    gll5dm
    I am not a lawyer. Even if I were, I am not _your_ lawyer. That said:

    5.2.5 (and other things, but this one for sure) means Saunders v Vautier does not apply.

    The stuff about not being eligible to receive benefits from the trust once you turn 25 is nonsense (on my reading).

    5.3.5 means you are completely screwed.
    Originally posted by securityguy
    In what way completely screwed?

    In as much as the solicitor has told me only those not yet 25 can still access funds for the next year and I need to hope she doesn't give them the thumbs up to completely empty the fund?

    Or something else?

    Having read the will and noted no reference to not being eligible once I turn 25, might it make sense for me to put in a request for funds to at least make the effort to get something out of it and not let it all go to the step-grandson?
    • pjcox2005
    • By pjcox2005 9th May 17, 9:07 PM
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    pjcox2005
    Not of much help, but out of curiosity has the fourth (estranged/removed) grandchild looked to actually take funds out?


    You mention a 30k loan that has been repaid, so no money removed there, and you mention later about loans which again would need to be repaid.


    At no point have you said anything about people withdrawing excessive amounts so I wonder if that gives a bit more comfort that it may not be as bad as expected.
    • securityguy
    • By securityguy 9th May 17, 9:09 PM
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    securityguy
    5.3.5 says the trustees can do what they want without concern for equality amongst the beneficiaries. With that clause in place, it's almost impossible to see what grounds you could ever have to challenge their decisions even if they gave all the money to one of you. It might have been seen to be necessary twenty years ago to ensure the trust had the tax advantages that were probably part of its intent, but it makes any argument about fairness impossible.
    • gll5dm
    • By gll5dm 9th May 17, 9:17 PM
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    gll5dm
    5.3.5 says the trustees can do what they want without concern for equality amongst the beneficiaries. With that clause in place, it's almost impossible to see what grounds you could ever have to challenge their decisions even if they gave all the money to one of you. It might have been seen to be necessary twenty years ago to ensure the trust had the tax advantages that were probably part of its intent, but it makes any argument about fairness impossible.
    Originally posted by securityguy
    Oh I get that. Just have to hope the trustee sees there is a year remaining and four people as part of the trust fund, and one of them has already received a lump sum of ~30k (the share that was originally going to his father but got changed to him).

    I guess another approach would be to explain I have read the will and there is no mention of me no longer being able to access the trust, and then find a reason why I should be able to access funds from it.
    • gll5dm
    • By gll5dm 9th May 17, 9:18 PM
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    gll5dm
    Not of much help, but out of curiosity has the fourth (estranged/removed) grandchild looked to actually take funds out?


    You mention a 30k loan that has been repaid, so no money removed there, and you mention later about loans which again would need to be repaid.


    At no point have you said anything about people withdrawing excessive amounts so I wonder if that gives a bit more comfort that it may not be as bad as expected.
    Originally posted by pjcox2005
    Thanks for your reply!

    We will get a more detailed breakdown in a few weeks / whenever the trustee gets back in touch of what he has received over the past 15 years. All I know is that in the first three years he only received around 1000 pounds (on top of the 30k lump sum he received).

    Honestly, that guy must feel like he won the lottery. He never even met the woman.
    • Manxman in exile
    • By Manxman in exile 9th May 17, 9:46 PM
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    Manxman in exile
    I think you need to accept the fact that the step-grandson has already received a lump sum from your grandmother's will. Obviously your step-grandfather had fallen out with his son and disinherited him, but he (and presumably your grandmother) obviously wanted whatever the step-son would have got to go straight to the step-grandson. But then your grandmother and step-grandfather still wanted him to benefit from the fund the same as the other grandchildren. (Does that all make sense?) I can sort of see why they did this although it may seem a bit odd.


    Unfortunately, because of the wording of 5.3.5 my phrase above, "...the same as the other grandchildren..." is rendered meaningless as explained by securityguy - the trustees can distribute the fund as they see fit - share it equally or give it to just one grandchild.


    I'm also still not clear about the loan given to the step-grandchild. It has been paid back, hasn't it, so the overall fund hasn't been diluted in any way? Or am I mis-understanding?


    You could try to get something out of the fund now as the will doesn't seem to say you have to be under 25, but as it would be a loan, you would have to pay it back according to the will wouldn't you? But please remember, I know very little in this area and there are much more knowledgeable posters than me here.


    I think it's clear to me that despite the wording (for tax purposes?) of 5.3.5 your grandmother must(?) have intended you all to be treated equally. Have you any grounds or reason to believe the trustees would not do this, even though according to the specific terms of the will they don't have to? I mean, what reason would they have not to treat you all equally?


    But it's quite possible I don't know what I'm talking about...


    Edit: Cross posted with OP's #33
    Last edited by Manxman in exile; 09-05-2017 at 9:50 PM. Reason: cross post
    • gll5dm
    • By gll5dm 9th May 17, 10:00 PM
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    gll5dm
    I think you need to accept the fact that the step-grandson has already received a lump sum from your grandmother's will. Obviously your step-grandfather had fallen out with his son and disinherited him, but he (and presumably your grandmother) obviously wanted whatever the step-son would have got to go straight to the step-grandson. But then your grandmother and step-grandfather still wanted him to benefit from the fund the same as the other grandchildren. (Does that all make sense?) I can sort of see why they did this although it may seem a bit odd.
    Originally posted by Manxman in exile
    That makes sense, I understand it but think it's absolutely awful. But the will was from my step-grandfather and then my grandmother took it once he died and filed it the way it is today. The two witnesses to the will were friends to her stepson so it's no surprise it's set up to hugely benefit this guy and not her real grandchildren.

    Unfortunately, because of the wording of 5.3.5 my phrase above, "...the same as the other grandchildren..." is rendered meaningless as explained by securityguy - the trustees can distribute the fund as they see fit - share it equally or give it to just one grandchild.
    Originally posted by Manxman in exile
    Yep, got that. I have to hope the trustee realises there are four people in the trust and doesn't just accept any random request from this step-grandson. Who knows..

    I'm also still not clear about the loan given to the step-grandchild. It has been paid back, hasn't it, so the overall fund hasn't been diluted in any way? Or am I mis-understanding?
    Originally posted by Manxman in exile
    As far as I am aware it has been paid back. His parents used it to purchase a house around 15 years ago. Unfortunately it appears my mother either didn't read the will properly or completely misunderstood it, possibly because she got a lump sum and automatically assumed we were left the same amount just set up slightly differently. She doesn't seem to know how it got understood so wrong.

    You could try to get something out of the fund now as the will doesn't seem to say you have to be under 25, but as it would be a loan, you would have to pay it back according to the will wouldn't you? But please remember, I know very little in this area and there are much more knowledgeable posters than me here.
    Originally posted by Manxman in exile
    It wouldn't be a loan. There is X amount left in the fund and nothing in the will to suggest you have to be under 25 to request funds. The other guy got a loan as it was in the fund as an option, but any time we've requested funds we've had to get in touch with the trustee and explain what and why, and then they've sent us a cheque.

    I think it's clear to me that despite the wording (for tax purposes?) of 5.3.5 your grandmother must(?) have intended you all to be treated equally. Have you any grounds or reason to believe the trustees would not do this, even though according to the specific terms of the will they don't have to? I mean, what reason would they have not to treat you all equally?
    Originally posted by Manxman in exile
    I don't have any reason to not believe that, but on the other hand I don't know what this other guy has received in the past 15 years or indeed what the total amount of the trust was. When we find out in a week or so we may find out he's taken thousands and thousands out of it.

    I really, really wish my mother was able to read properly, as we wouldn't be in this position. Grr.
    • Yorkshireman99
    • By Yorkshireman99 9th May 17, 10:03 PM
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    Yorkshireman99
    Oh I get that. Just have to hope the trustee sees there is a year remaining and four people as part of the trust fund, and one of them has already received a lump sum of ~30k (the share that was originally going to his father but got changed to him).

    I guess another approach would be to explain I have read the will and there is no mention of me no longer being able to access the trust, and then find a reason why I should be able to access funds from it.
    Originally posted by gll5dm
    Sorry to say you are missing the crucial point that the Trustees have almost complete freedom to do as they see fit. There has been, AFAIK, no obligation to "fairness" as long as they comply with the law. Sadly the solicitor who worded the will was an idiot.
    Last edited by Yorkshireman99; 09-05-2017 at 10:11 PM.
    • gll5dm
    • By gll5dm 9th May 17, 10:06 PM
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    gll5dm
    Sorry to say you are missing the crucial point that the Trustees have almost complete freedom to do as they see fit. There have, AFAIK, no obligation to "fairness" as long as they comply with the law. Sadly the solicitor who worded the will was an idiot.
    Originally posted by Yorkshireman99
    I get it, I know the will says the trustee can do as they see fit. I can only *hope* for the trustee to act fairly towards everybody, but know she is not obliged to.

    Two problems:
    1 - Like you said, the wording.
    2 - 15 years of my mother telling us completely the wrong info, to the point where I can no longer claim any funds when just under 50k is up for grabs by this guy who didn't even meet my grandmother and already received 30k in a lump sum.

    Makes me feel sick, and yes, I know it's in the will so he's able to get his hands on it.
    • securityguy
    • By securityguy 9th May 17, 10:31 PM
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    securityguy
    Sorry to say you are missing the crucial point that the Trustees have almost complete freedom to do as they see fit. There has been, AFAIK, no obligation to "fairness" as long as they comply with the law. Sadly the solicitor who worded the will was an idiot.
    Originally posted by Yorkshireman99
    Or, alternatively, cautious about ensuring that the trust was discretionary in order to avoid Saunders and in order to avoid (I think, it's a long time ago) some of the HMRC objections to trusts being used to defeat inheritance tax.

    As I think you've pointed out, accurately, the problem with discretionary trusts is that it involves placing completely trust in the trustees; if you set up strong limits to the powers of the trustees, then the trust ceases to be discretionary and falls under different tax and other legislation.

    In my book, this is another argument as to the risks of discretionary trusts: in this case, had the money simply sat in an investment vehicle for each beneficiary and been paid to them at 18, perhaps with some provision for early payments in case of need, everyone would have been a lot happier, there would have been a lot less in the way of fees (I doubt the solicitors managing this disaster have been doing so out of charity and a sense of goodwill) and a lot of trouble would have been avoided.
    • securityguy
    • By securityguy 9th May 17, 10:36 PM
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    securityguy
    2 - 15 years of my mother telling us completely the wrong info, to the point where I can no longer claim any funds
    Originally posted by gll5dm
    Why not? I can't see any wording which excludes older recipients, just that the trust is wound up when you are all 25. Older beneficiaries are still eligible to ask the trustees for money.

    For other readers: messing about with trusts because you have outmoded views on the inability of young people to spend money wisely results in disasters like this. This is a trust which avoids the use of Saunders v Vautier to get the money at 18, but on the face of it has allowed the trust to be drained for the benefit of precisely the sort of person it set out "protect".
    • gll5dm
    • By gll5dm 9th May 17, 11:08 PM
    • 112 Posts
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    gll5dm
    Thanks again for your input, really appreciate your time.

    I think the only option is to make a request on the fund, the only thing is I don't know what I could request that could amount to what I believe I am due, which is 1/4 of what remains in there (total left is 40k). And also back that up with reasons why the trustee should allow the payment to be made.
    Last edited by gll5dm; 09-05-2017 at 11:14 PM.
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