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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
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Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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My father had named my eldest sister of four as executor who

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My father had named my eldest sister of four as executor who never informed me of the her role or the content of the will which was written in April 2015.
Our father passed away in January 2016.
His residence went to probate and sold without me or my other sisters being informed. I live abroad and had visited my father before his death and he repeatedly confirmed his wishes verbally that his estate is to be shared four ways. He had in fact repeated this wish in his death bed to my other sisters too. My share of the inheritance should have been £84,000 but all I am being offered is 10,000 as stated in the will. The will has left it to the discretion of my eldest sister to fit as what should be done with the proceeds from the sale of my father's home.
Can you please Adivise if there is a legal course of action available to me.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Probable had been granted on 13th April and I have only just been informed
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
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Are you saying that the whole estate was worth £336,000 but for some reason, you have only been left £10,000 in the will?

How much did the other 3 sisters get?

As the will was only written in April 2015, why was that?

If your father verbally expressed that he wished things to be divided equally 4 ways, why did he make his will different.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The estate is worth 268k. I believe that Sally and Joanne will receive 10k. The will was re written in April 2015, I believe under the influence of my eldest sister, the executor who lives closeby. I truly believe he trusted her to administer his last wishes and not his last will. My eldest sister had told me that he changed the will in April 2015 because of issues with myself, Sally and Joanne. This of course suited her interests.
I attach a copy of the grant of probate that I obtained on 13th July from probate search.
I am in contact with my youngest sister who is without any form of financial security in her life and wish to protect her interests and much as mine, if not more.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I spent one week with him at the end of October. He was perfectly rational although very agitated and in pain. But on my very first night, he was extreamly keen to tell me what I was going to receive from his will and made it perfectly clear about the equal share after the sale of his flat. He was admitted into hospital, about eight weeks later and reiterated again and again and again to my youngest sister that it was to be shared "four ways". She said he was very determined to let her know. And kept holding up his four fingers to emphasise the fact. This happened in front of my older two sisters Lynn and Sally,*lynn lives 10 minutes from dadsWhen I arrived at his flat it was dirty. I don't believe that Lynn appreciated how much pain he was in, therefore hadn't felt the need to help him clean it or visit more regularly.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I don't get on with Sally at all. Dad had tried in vein to get her to speak to me on the phone during the course of my very last night with him. I of course agreed, for his sake. But she refused. I couldn't go to the funeral because of the upset caused by the failed reconciliation with Sally. Lynn advised against going. I believe that she has been antagonist, manipulative and diversive in all of her actions and is now reaping her financial reward.

There are 4 daughters. They appear to be Joanne, Melanie Sally and Lynn.

Simple enough, Joanne, Melanie, and Sally get £10,000 each (4.2) and everything which remains (5.3) becomes the Trust Fund. The Trust Fund goes to Lynn (6.1). However the following clause says that if Lynn dies, it goes to her children. There is no provision for any discretion with regard to that Trust Fund but it seems a very odd way of laying this out if there was not going to be the provision for her to exercise discretion which there is not. There would normally be wording in will that Lynn was to use her discretion to divide the proceeds.

I also cannot see why Lynn would have to use her discretion and why your father didn’t simply split everything for ways.

Looking at the signature part, it appears that the witnesses were staff from the solicitor’s office and hence, your father visited the solicitor’s office in April 2015. The fact that this will was drafted by solicitors would not assist in bringing a claim.

There are various ways of contesting the will.

Undue influence if your father was somehow persuaded to change his will against what he would ordinarily have done. That’s a possibility here.

Lack of mental capacity if there is medical evidence to prove he didn’t know what he was doing.

Fraud although there is no suggestion of that.

If he made any promises to you relied on those promises you may be able to rely on Promissory Estoppel.

And finally, the statutory provision, the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act if he failed to make adequate provision for your family or dependents without good reason. That is a possibility.

Contesting a will is not cheap although if the three sisters clubbed together, it would spread the cost and risk of bringing the claim between you. If Lynn took your father to the solicitors even though she may not have been present in the room when the solicitor took the instructions, that assists you in improving that she did influence him if there is no other evidence why he should make such a disproportionate will.

Faced with a claim by three sisters and this will in such disproportionate terms without any valid reason, I will tell you that Lynn does not have a good case to defend any action.

There is one other thing which is quite important particularly in view of the fact that solicitors drafted the will, and that is that the solicitors may not have been made aware that (5.3) “what remains (“the Trust Fund”) equated to 268,000 and even without these legacies, each of the sisters would get £10,000 each Lynn would get the trust fund which equated to £230,000 plus. Lynn may have played this down to say that she was happy for her 3 sisters to get £10,000 each and that she, Lynn would be happy with the crumbs from under the table. Expensive crumbs!

Can I clarify anything for you?

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your detailed explanation. Is it possible that my dad could made a later will? If so how could I find out?