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Helen Hill
Helen Hill, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 226
Experience:  LLB Law, Licensed Conveyancer and Probate Practitioner, Fellow of CILEx, Trust and Estates Practitioner (STEP)
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My mum passed away in Aug 2017 her will was that it all went

Customer Question

My mum passed away in Aug 2017 her will was that it all went to my stepdad with I think just a verbal agreement that eventually it would be split between myself and my sister and my stepbrother and his half brother , however my stepdad has now remarried his first ex wife again moved 300 Miles away bought a bungalow and is now selling the other house which he intends to split 4 ways between the above but I and my sister will be written out of any final will also the selling of the house keeps changing as now my stepbrother has said his fiancés sister would like to rent it I’m so confused and just want things settled
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Helen Hill replied 2 months ago.

Thank you for your question. i am a wills and probate lawyer so I will be able to help.

Unfortunately, as the property was left entirely to your stepdad, it is his to dispose of as he sees fit. Because of the rules of testamentary freedom in England and Wales he can also write his Will as he wishes and leave the remainder of his estate as he chooses.

There is a way to bring a claim against an estate and dispute the distribution however this action must be taken within six months of the Grant of Probate being issued.

If he does proceed with the sale and gives you a share then at least he is honouring your mother's wishes as he does not legally have to do so. Because the property is his, you have no power to force a sale either unfortunately and it is his choice if he wants to retain it and rent it out.

I am sorry I cannot give you better news but I hope this helps to clarify the legal position for you.

Best regards, Helen

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Can you not contest a will
Expert:  Helen Hill replied 2 months ago.

You can only 'contest' a Will in certain circumstances, for example if you believe your mother didn't have capacity at the time of making her Will. The effect of contesting a Will however is that it is deemed to be invalid and your mother's estate could then pass under the intestacy provisions which would likely mean that your stepdad would still legally inherit the property either via intestacy or through survivorship by being a joint owner.

What is more likely to assist in your circumstances is what I mentioned above about bringing a claim against the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act. This is bought by someone who is not inheriting from an estate but feels like they should be entitled to receive a part of it. The Court has a very wide discretion under section 9 (1) of the Inheritance Act to order that the deceased’s share of the property is treated as part of their net estate, even if it was jointly owned with your stepdad and passed to him by survivorship.

The time limit on bringing a claim is very strict though so you will need to find out what date the Grant of Probate was issued to see if you are still within the six month time limit.

The Court will need to be satisfied that you should inherit a share of the estate in preference to your stepdad which would be supported if you have evidence of your mother's intention that you should receive a share of the property.

You can check the date that a Grant of Probate is issue by doing a search here.

I hope this clarifies for you.

Expert:  Helen Hill replied 2 months ago.

I hope this information was useful. Please let me know if you have any further questions. I would also be most grateful if you could take a moment to rate my service as this is how I am recognised for the assistance I provide.