How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 35050
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
Type Your Family Law Question Here...
Clare is online now

Hi! I wonder if you can help?My sister and her husband

This answer was rated:

Hi! I wonder if you can help?
My sister and her husband are splitting up and, whilst my sister was in hospital, she agreed to lend him £560 out of her bank account to help him pay his bills. He subsequently withdrew a further £265, without her permission, to tax his car.
However, prior to him withdrawing the money, there was a payment of £350 paid into my sister's account that formed part of our late father's estate (a pension payment) and, as Executor to the estate, I have asked my brother in law to return the £350 as it should be placed into the executor's account and I need to be able to account for all monies to the beneficiaries of my late father's estate.
My brother in law has replied to say that he has asked his brother (a Scottish lawyer) to deal with now this as he can't cope with everything.
Where do I stand legally on asking him for the money back because I don't want to have to face a legal battle so soon after losing my father?
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
I am sorry for your loss.
Who are the beneficiaries of the estate?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi Clare
Thank you for your kindness, it is a very difficult time for us all.
The beneficiaries are my sister and me, with a gift of £20,000 to my nephew and £10,000 to my niece (my sister's children). My father also left his car to my sister's husband in the Will. This is the car he took the money out of my sister's account to tax.
My brother in law was a beneficiary in the Will until my father realised my sister was leaving him and removed him (other than leaving him the car).
I hope that helps but please don't hesitate to contact me if you require any further information,
PS...I ignored a call from an unknown number last night as I think it could have been my brother in law's brother (the lawyer), and I do want to say or do anything wrong!
Thanks Clare, I really appreciate your help in this!
Regards, Shelly
May I ask if your sister has started divorce proceedings yet?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi Clare
No she hasn't....they have been estranged since June and she furnished him with the divorce paperwork in July but he never filled it in or signed it.
My sister is adamant that her husband has no claim on her finances as he is not working (for approximately 3 years) and on benefits...he is also declared bankrupt. Prior to her car accident, she was the executor dealing with our father's probate and monies from our father's estate were paid into an account in her sole name, not a joint account.
Since my sisters accident (and our fears that she may sustain some form of brain injury -thankfully she hasn't), I have taken over the probate and it's since then that the issues have arisen. My brother in law believes I have 'overstepped the mark' by insisting things are carried out correctly
How long have she and her husband lived together?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
They have been married for seven years.
Does that have some bearing on whether I'm in my rights to ask for my father's pension money back then?
I am afraid that your sister is wrong - her husband does have a potential financial claim on her - whether it will actually turn into a real claim is debatable - but a potential claim none the less.
It appears that she gave him permission to remove money from her account.
The fact that he took more than she agreed is an issue between them which will have to be dealt with within the financial side of their divorce
Equally the fact that your sister erroneously paid the money into her account is her responsibility and not his - and I am afraid he has no liability to return the funds.
Again that is an issue between your sister and her husband and on a practical level you can simply deduct that amount for the legacy to your sister when the time comes.
I appreciate that this is not the news that you wanted - but it is the legal position I am afraid
Please ask if you need further details
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi Clare
Thanks for getting back to me; can I just check one final thing with you please? When you say my sister is wrong, do you mean that her husband has a claim on her half of my father's estate, even though they are estranged ?
She was advised that, as the estate is a bequeathment and so long as monies were paid into an account in her sole name, he would have no rights to that money...if that is incorrect I need to tell her straight away to ensure she starts divorce proceedings before probate is granted.
Just to check - where in the Uk does your sister actually live - England and Wales or Scotland?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Clare

Although my brother in law is Scottish, they rent a cottage in Cambridgeshire, England. My brother in law is still living in the cottage, but my sister isn't. She moved a majority of her belongings out of the cottage prior to her accident and has stored them in our late father's garage, although she still has a few small belongings left back at the cottage.

She is currently convalescing with me and, once she's ready to take care of herself again (she has a fractured pelvis from the car accident), she will be moving into my father's bungalow whilst it's in the process of being sold.

She has put a deposit on a lovely little lakeside park home, but it's imperative that she retains all of her half of the inheritance from my father in order to complete the purchase. If her husband has any claim on her half of the inheritance, she won't be able to afford to complete on her home and move on with her life; that's what worries me, because she really deserves to be happy.

Thanks Clare; I look forward to hearing from you.

Try not to worry
There is a relatively short relationship and the fact that the monies are an inheritance and will be received after separation means that it is unlikely that her husband will get a share
In any event there is nothing that can be done now - but starting the divorce process sooner rather than later is a good idea
Clare and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you