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Changed will and disinherited family

Changed will and disinherited family

Postby Salinger » Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:08 pm

Friend's sibling (deceased) was godparent to friend's kids.
Deceased wrote original will in favour of godchildren.
Subsequently changed will in favour of charity related to condition deceased suffered from.
Estate was mainly family money from inheritance from parents and there had always been an expectation that friend's kids would inherit as next in line.
Deceased, despite suffering from the condition since childhood showed no interest in the charity for most of their life and only became involved with it in later life, a few years before dying.
Charity on record as having solicited 100% legacies.
One executor, a relative with close connections to the charity, possibly influenced change.
Another executor had professional, ie medical relationship with deceased.
Will was written by will-writing firm. They sent a letter which stated deceased should prepare a letter giving reasons why family disinherited. No letter was written.

Does friend have grounds for challenge? If so, concerned about costs and length of time to resolve.
Friend has approached charity with a view to going to mediation requesting a moral payment. At the moment charity resisting on "no grounds" angle.

Would appreciate a push in the right direction. Thanks in advance.
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Re: Changed will and disinherited family

Postby atticus » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:49 pm

Welcome back, JD.

A person is entitled to change his Will. "Moral" arguments don't enter into it.

So what grounds are there to contest this Will? Did the testator have testamentary capacity? Was there any undue influence? If pursuing these lines, you need strong evidence.

You say nothing to indicate the availability of any proprietary estoppel or Inheritance Act claim (a claim by someone maintained by the deceased and not adequately provided for in the Will).
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Re: Changed will and disinherited family

Postby dls » Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:02 pm

Does friend have grounds for challenge?


Sorry but you suggest none.
Our law favours almost entirely freedom to make whatever disposition of estate one wishes, and to change it as often as desired.

The very limited exceptions are in favour of close family members - spouses and dependent children (not god children)
Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
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Re: Changed will and disinherited family

Postby atticus » Fri Sep 01, 2017 6:19 pm

The fault goes back to friend's and deceased's parents for not dividing their estates more evenly between their progeny.
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Re: Changed will and disinherited family

Postby Salinger » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:14 pm

Hi Atticus and DLS. Thanks for you comments.

Atticus, no proprietary estoppel or Inheritance Act claim, so far as I know.

However, last surviving parent left £25k each to the two siblings. Deceased was executor to parent’s estate. Gave sibling £12.5k but kept balance. Not sure why deceased didn't pay out in full, but there were sufficent funds in the estate. So would sibling have had a claim on the estate? As probate has been granted and the bequest been given to the charity, without the £12.5k being paid, would the claim still exist and would it be against the executors or the charity?

The will had handwritten notes on it which suggested that the intention was to rewrite but health of deceased deteriorated and nothing was done.

Did the testator have testamentary capacity? Diagnosed with PTSD so possibly mental health deteriorated at times, but difficult to prove as executors take the suggestion as an insult. The notes suggest intent to reinstate family.

Was there any undue influence? Possibly but difficult to prove.

Parents of one Executor, a cousin are involved with support group for the charity.

“Legacy fundraising can be a sensitive and contentious subject. Therefore a fundraiser needs to ensure that they have acted appropriately and not exerted any undue pressure on potential donors. A fundraiser should not give legal advice and should recommend that a potential legator (donor) seeks independent advice.” Institute of Fundraising

“Organisations MUST ensure that all legacy fundraising activity is done whilst considering:
• the duty of trustees to optimise the benefit to the fundraising organisation;
• the potential legator’s freedom to provide for her/his family and others; and
• the sensitivities of the potential legator and his/her family and friends.”
Fundraising Regulator
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Re: Changed will and disinherited family

Postby atticus » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:19 pm

Your friend should see a good solicitor expert in this field if he wants to review what there is and get good advice. He should find a solicitor who is a member of STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners).

There may be a claim in respect of the unpaid part of the legacy.
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Re: Changed will and disinherited family

Postby Salinger » Sat Sep 02, 2017 6:17 am

Thanks, Atticus. If there were a claim, do you think it would be against the executors or the charity?
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Re: Changed will and disinherited family

Postby atticus » Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:44 am

Possibly both. That would depend on the nature of the claim. The solicitor can advise.
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Re: Changed will and disinherited family

Postby dls » Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:43 am

The gideline stuff about charities has nlegaleffect in this context. That an executor has a parent who raises funds for a charity who is a beneficiary signifies nothing.
Having PTSD would normally be a long way from lacking capacity.
The same people suggesting a possible lackf capacity seem ready to give weight to a an informal note.
Undue influence is a much bigger hill to climb, and nothing you suggests the effort has any good basis.

An unpaid legacy is due from the estate from which it should have been paid. Any action starts with that estate. How do you know that there were funds sufficient to pay? Have you seen accounts. Assets are easy to see; liabilities not so much.
Whether it should have been paid depends upon the exact terms of the will and on the net assets available.
Was there another executor?
Has the estate been otherwise fully administered.
You may think that you rknow te answers, and your answers may yet be correct, but I suspect that you may not know the answers in the sense of having justified true belief.
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Re: Changed will and disinherited family

Postby Salinger » Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:04 pm

Thanks Atticus and DLS for your very helpful comments, which confirm my own views. I will pass them on.
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