Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
May I ask if relations between you and your sister have not been good in the past please or is her present reaction a surprise to you?
Does anyone hold power of attorney for your mother?
Why are you communicating via your niece as opposed to with your sister directly? Have you visited your mother personally?
I hope you are able to see my above queries?
Hi, relations with my sister have been generally fine. I try and visit my mum once a week. My last visit was on the 14th April 2014 when I discovered that my mum had taken a severe downturn. Due to my circumstances, I can only make contact with my family via email as I am forced to care for my wife who suffers with a debilitating neurological disease... hence the contact with my niece. She thus far as acted as a go between for my sister.
Thanks. Has your niece any kind of history of "stirring" or causing trouble in the family? Does your sister have a direct email you could communicate with?
I don't really connect with my sisters family, as with most families, they tend to close ranks when challenged. I don't have an email for my sister, although I have spoken directly with her on a previous visit. Whilst I don't believe she would condone her daughters behaviour, I do believe that there is an hidden agenda.
Thanks. Is the property in question owned by your mother solely?
It is not possible to force your sister to meet with you however logically it seems sensible to contact your sister directly if you have concerns you wish to discuss rather than allowing her daughter to act as some form of gate keeper which may or may not reflect the wishes of her mother.
What is possible more important is to meet with your mother to ensure her affairs are arranged as she wishes, in particular ensuring that her will relfects her wishes. It may be that following such a meeting between you and her she may want a solicitor to attend her in hospital to ensure that such documents reflect her wishes.
If she wishes to ensure that your brother and/or her brother can continue to live in the property for a period for example she may wish to provide for a life interest trust of some variant to allow them to remain for a period and then for the property after that period to be divided between named beneficiaries.
She may even want to create a trust for the property during her life - now - if she has any concerns about influence of other family members.
Providing she ensures her affairs reflect her wishes then potential other agendas of third party family members will have little practical weight were anything to happen to your mother.
Thanks. Unfortunately, when I last spoke with my mum, she was almost incoherent. As she will surely now be drugged up to the eyeballs on Morphine, I very much doubt that she will make much sense.
Thank you. Is she expected to make a recovery do you think - I apologise that this may be a difficult and sensitive question? Do you know if she has made a will to date?
I doubt that she will recover. As far as I am aware, she has made a will.
Thank you. Do you know its terms?
When I last spoke to her about this she was trying to find a solution regarding what would happen to my brother if she passed away. As previously mentioned, my brother has Autism and is unable to manage some everyday tasks on his own. As a result, he has been under my mum and dad's wing all his life... he will be 50 in July. Her concern has been that it would be difficult to divide her assets 3 ways because of this. Basically, either myself or my sister would have to act as his guardian. As far as I am aware, her will is currently divided 3 ways. My dad incidentally passed away in September of 2011 as a result of major heart failure.
Thank you. Based on what you say it seems sensible that a form of trust would be considered for the protection of your brother however unless your mother regains sufficient cohesion the terms of her will cannot be changed at this point. The benficiaries of her will could collectively agree a change to the terms of the will but there is no guarantee that such agreement could be reached.
Thanks for your help.
There is no requirement to discuss the position of your brother at this point but should you wish to do so, if you feel your niece could simply be causing trouble, contacting your sister directly, be it by email letter or phone would seem the logical next step. If your sister is unwilling to meet with you unfortunately she cannot be forced to do so but you can request a discussion or meeting nevertheless.
In terms of your mother if no one has power of attorney for her then doctors and/or social services have an obligation to make best interests decisions for her under the Mental Capacity Act. You as her son have a right to give input to doctors and / or social services which must be taken into account in terms of decisions made on her behalf. Your sister has a like right. your sister does not have a monopoly of influence in this respect.
If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do not hesitate to revert to me
If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though
The situation has now developed further to where I found out the other day that my sister arranged for my mum to change her will behind my back. My sister got a solicitor to attend my mum's home yet I was not contacted to be present or included in any way in the arrangements. Is this legal?
My sister has tied everything up so that she and her husband will move into my mum's property upon her death and gain the entire estate and take care of my brother.
I was not consulted or given any chance to express my wishes regarding my brother's welfare or any aspect of the estate. It feels as if my mum only has two children and that in her eyes I never existed.
My mum told me that my sister has been granted power of attorney, however I am unsure if my sister can exercise any rights in this respect until my mum actually loses mental capacity?
Basically I need legal advice and help as to what, if anything, I can do legally to change the outcome or stop my sister? (My mum is at present, still with us, but is near the end, as far as I can gather).
After their despicable behaviour all ties with them have now been severed. Contact will be made only through legal channels, if at all.
As far as I am aware she did make a previous will and the estate was to be split 3 ways between myself, brother and sister and possibly there was something in place whereby a solicitor would be executor for my brother if anything happened to myself and my sister.
I've only had verbal confirmation that the will was recently changed but I don't know exactly when this happened, possibly within the last few weeks.
Apparently the new will allows my brother to stay in the property for the rest of his life with my sister and her husband to live there with him and handle all my mum's financial affairs and then the property sold eventually when my brother passes away (he is 49).
It's hard to say as she has been up and down since her diagnosis. When she told me about the new terms of the will she did appear to be coherent at that time in my non-medical opinion.
I would not have said that she was happy. She seemed more anxious about what would happen to my brother above all else. She was also anxious for me to leave before my sister came back into the room as she was worried about conflict. These fears are what I believe my sister has been heavily playing on during this time.
I have not been asked by my mum about whether I would be happy to take care of my brother. (At least not in recent times; she mentioned it a long time ago and I could not give her an answer back then as I could not see into the future.)
In my opinion, my sister is no more qualified than I am to take care of my brother. I am in fact an official carer for my wife. My brother is able-bodied but simply needs supervision.
Thank you. I will do so within the next day or two.
Hi again, I've tried for the past two days to start a new question but I'm experiencing issues with the website.
When I click on your profile to begin a new question it has continually showed you as being "Offline" ever since Tues, and still the same today, and it won't let me proceed with my question.
I emailed Customer Care for support but they have suggested I reply to my original question. However, I appreciate that you wanted me to start a new question due to the complexity of the subject. I'm stuck as to how to proceed!