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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 25950
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I received an inheritance from my parents in May 2013

Customer Question

Hi,
I received an inheritance from my parents in May*****of a gift as a PET - £420,000 to help buy myself, my wife and my son a house to live in together, my wife contributed to the purchase with some of her own money.
My parents are still alive but within the last 6 months my mum has basically become mentally ill, is creating delusions about us and causing us a lot of misery and despair. We have tried to help her but such is the severity of the situation that she has basically wants nothing to do with me or my family and is threatening to sue us for the financial gift which is my inheritance.
Obviously I can't afford or nor should I feel obliged to now give any of that money back otherwise my family will effectively be homeless. My question is whether she has any grounds to sue and if I should be worried and prepared for any legal battle should it come to it?
Regards,
Kerry
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

May I ask how the gift was made please? Was it made formally by deed or just informally by your parents writing out a cheque so to speak?
Was the gift from both your parents?
If so what is your father's view on the matter?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The gift was made via a bank transfer to my account after the sale of my parents house. The gift was from both my parents, although I'm not 100% sure if it was transferred from their joint account or my mums sole account.

I had various email correspondance with a financial advisor that my parents and I also met in person that can also confirm their intentions.

My father's view is that I am entitled to the money and is equally distressed and upset at my mums sudden changes in mental state.

Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. From what you say nothing formal was ever written down or signed by your parents? is the only evidence of the gift apart from your own statement the statement of your father and the financial advisor? Did the financial advisor make any notes?Have you bought a house yet?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

There is probably some email correspondance from my parents that may refer to inheritance and gift but nothing formal. Every other member of the family and friends know that it was my inheritance. There are emails from the financial advisor describing how inheritance works as PET for the sum of £420,000. Probably from my parents as well as myself.

There is no formal deed though.

Yes we have bought a house with the money and have been living next door to them for the last 9 months - which has caused some of the relationship issues.

The solicitor that dealt with our house purchase also knows about the situation and inheritance that was coming from my parents to purchase our house.

Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
thank you. The starting point for the situation is that there is no presumption in English law that money given by a parent to a son is a gift. In other words, the presumption in law that such money would be a lone rather than a gift and in the event that your parents were to deny that the money was a gift, it would be for you to prove on the balance of probability that it was.From what you say, you appear to have reasonably good evidence to support that it was a gift but the larger the amount of money in question, the more conclusive evidence the court would require that the money was a gift in order that the court holds it to be so in the event the matter were to proceed to court.In your favour, you have your own statement as to what took place, and far more valuably, your father statement and in second place so that, the statement of the financial adviser. Ideally of course, if you could go back and do it again, a simple deed of gift should have been prepared to evidence the gift which would have put the matter beyond any reasonable doubt. However, as things are, you have the above evidence and the evidence of your mother's sadly deteriorating mental condition.obviously, all parties would be keen I have no doubt to avoid the matter escalating to an application to the County court. It is not clear to me from your comments with your mother would be capable escalating the matter to full-blown litigation in the current condition but of course could do so if she is able to contact solicitors to represent her. Your father can play a key role in managing the situation both with his own statement as to what took place but also in respect of managing any potential escalation your mother attempts. In the event that your mother were to escalate matters to a court application, then her application would only affect any money she gave she was opposed to any money your father gave so it might be useful to ascertain precisely what sums were attributed to which parent. Based on the above information, you would appear to have grounds for a reasonable prospect of the defence of any such claim but it is not possible to say that you have any guarantee of success in the absence of a formal deed of gift signed by your mother.However, my hope in this situation would be that your mother's condition can be managed both by your father and her doctors so as to avoid an unnecessary escalation and that in the meantime you can keep matters under control by taking advice from your father and her doctors as regards ***** ***** condition.in terms of what you might be able to do to prepare yourself for any potential legal challenge, as above, it would be wise to ascertain which of your parents gave you what if necessary by discussing the matter with your financial adviser if he held records or failing which checking your bank records in this respect; in addition, it would be worthwhile having your father write a short statement as to what took place and in particular to confirm that his understanding was the money was a gift from your mother and asked the financial adviser to do the same. The famous do not have to be fall at this stage but it can be made formal by the addition of the words " I believe the facts in this my statement are true" at the end of the statement and by the person signing and dating the statement and printing their name. In addition, if there is any correspondence by email otherwise between you and your mother or between her and the financial adviser or any attendance notes the financial adviser made of your meetings, these would be very helpful. There is little further you can do beyond the above would need to do prior to any court proceedings being issued but in the hope of the unlikely event they were subsequently issued, the above evidence would be extremely helpful as regards ***** ***** hope the above is of assistance? If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click to rate my service to you today or just reply back to let me know if the above is helpful. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me I'd be very grateful
Joshua and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
I hope the above is helpful? Can I help you with anything else or has the above answered your questions satisfactorily? If you could drop me a quick message to let me know I'd be very grateful.
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Have I been able to help you with all your questions on the above?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Joshua,

In this instance would it be an affidavit that I would get my father to sign in front of a solicitor?

Also in the instance that my mother was to change her mind and be willing to make the inheritance official, would there be a way of issuing a deed retrospectively or another simpler way of making it legal?

Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
An affidavit would be evidence on aoth and therefore one of the best forms of evidence one can submit to a court.If you mother were to come round, you may wish to ask your parents to sign a deed of gift to confirm the gift. A deed of gift is all but impossible to overturn - one needs to show fraud or mistake which are very difficult to prove.If you think she may be willing, then you will need a solicitor to prepare a deed of gift - charges are likely to be around £200-250 VAT. Alternatively I can prepare a deed of gift for you for circa £100 which you could use.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Do you have physical offices? Would the deed need to be signed in front of you by my parents?
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
I do as I work in private practice just like any other private practice solicitor but this site does not provide physical offices nor am I allowed to formally act for you as your solicitor under the terms of my agreement with this site. I am limited here to providing information on legal issues and providing certain types of documents where you require them - hence the difference in price between here and if you came to see me in private practice which would entail a formal solicitor client retainer and with it normal legal costs as above.If you wanted me to provide a deed of gift I would simply prepare the document and you would have to attend to its signing - you need an adult independent witness over 18 and who is not a relative to witness your parents signatures. There is no requirement that the deed of gift is signed in front of a solicitor. The end result is essentially the same except that I cannot formally advise you or your parents in connection with the document though there is little to advise upon from your perspective. It does as they say what it says on the tin.If I can assist any further please let me know.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Joshua,If my mum did decide to challenge me legally what assets would she be able to try and go after? I run my own limited company and own our house jointly with my wife. If I didn't have any other savings would she be limited to making me bankrupt?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Joshua,I understand that this is effectively another question, but it is relevant to all the responses on this page - I am happy to apply a bonus but I need this question answered please.Many Thanks,
Kerry