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Claim against mother's estate

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  • Claim against mother's estate

    My mother passed away a couple of years ago - she didn't leave a will, but had a live-in partner of 20 years, they weren't married, in a civil partnership or engaged, and had no shared bank accounts, bills or mortgage.

    He recently brought a legal case against me - I'm now the executor of her estate. As her only next of kin, I'm the only person able to do this, and he was fully aware.

    I approached him about signing a written agreement, so that he can continue to live in the house, as it was now in my name and we had no guidelines over rights and responsibilities between us. He told me he didn't need one, as he owns the house - paid for it 50/50 the whole time - and I'll inherit it when he dies. This is the first I've heard of this, and it's not true.

    His legal case however claims that I'm forcing him to leave.

    My solicitor has advised me that due to the length of time he's lived there, it's unlikely he'd be made by the court to leave, so the likely conclusion is a written agreement. His conditions for settling out of court are that I pay all of his fees up till now and allow him to make a claim out of time on the estate, which basically consists of the house.

    Just want it to go away. What do you think?
    Tags: None

  • #2
    So presumably the house was solely in your mothers name? I think he's pushing it. Point out that you will not agree to an out of time claim and his only way forward is an agreement with you, the owner of the house.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by roger1moore View Post
      My mother passed away a couple of years ago - she didn't leave a will, but had a live-in partner of 20 years, they weren't married, in a civil partnership or engaged, and had no shared bank accounts, bills or mortgage.

      He recently brought a legal case against me - I'm now the executor of her estate. As her only next of kin, I'm the only person able to do this, and he was fully aware.

      I approached him about signing a written agreement, so that he can continue to live in the house, as it was now in my name and we had no guidelines over rights and responsibilities between us. He told me he didn't need one, as he owns the house - paid for it 50/50 the whole time - and I'll inherit it when he dies. This is the first I've heard of this, and it's not true.

      His legal case however claims that I'm forcing him to leave.

      My solicitor has advised me that due to the length of time he's lived there, it's unlikely he'd be made by the court to leave, so the likely conclusion is a written agreement. His conditions for settling out of court are that I pay all of his fees up till now and allow him to make a claim out of time on the estate, which basically consists of the house.

      Just want it to go away. What do you think?
      So,it would appear that you have successfully applied for letters of representation and now you are the personal representative of your mam's estate.

      As your mam didn't leave a will her estate will be passed on under the laws of intestacy and as you are the only child you inherit the lot.

      Mam's live-in partner has no rights under intestacy law as he wasn't married or a civil partner.

      I recommend that you exercise all your power as personal representative and as you now own the house you can evict him from the property.

      You are the executor (or personal rep) and so all the power is with you (not some solicitor or the tenant) - never forget that you are in charge.

      I would call his bluff about him having any 'rights' to living in your house and give him written notice of you evicting him,you may have to give him reasonable notice of his eviction in view of his length of tenure - give him 9 months to get out or you will get a high court order to evict him and he will end up paying your legal costs.

      Why should you pay any of his legal costs ? You haven't brought the case, he has. He will probably lose it and end up paying all his own costs anyway.

      The courts will look at you being 'reasonable' and if you give him,say,9 months to get out as you want your house back then that will show you as being a reasonable person.

      He is being totally unreasonable in lying about him paying for the house and being vexatious about his 'legal claim.' All you want is closure and what is legally yours.

      You may also get some good advice on the moneysaving expert probate forum as there are some solicitors there who are quite helpful.

      Here is the link:
      https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com...play.php?f=217

      Good luck,and remember you are in charge as the law has given you the power to administrate the estate and you are the sole beneficiary.





      Comment


      • #4
        Hi Roger1Moore,

        Can you confirm what sort of claim your mother's partner has brought. Is it a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975? As her long term partner he may be able to bring a claim. However the time limits are quite strict. Usually, unless the Court allows it, any claim should be within 6mths of the Grant of Letters of Administration being issued. When did you get the Grant?

        As far as his paying half the bills/mortgage etc that does not in itself give him any 'rights' to the property. He would have to demonstrate that a trust had been created There are several types of trust including where people have contributed to the purchase of a property or carried out major works themselves believing they were going to receive a share. It is a technical area and my examples are very simplified but needless to say the fact someone contributes to bills and the mortgage does not in itself mean they are entitled to a share. It would also be for him to prove that a trust had been created whether express ly between him and your mother or implied through their actions.

        It appears that you have been reasonable in offering he stay at the property but that you remain the owner. As your solicitor has suggested a written agreement may be the most sensible way forward. Maybe mediation could help, although he doesn't sound the most reasonable of people!

        If we can give you any more pointers do post again but it sounds like your solicitor also has his number so hopefully you are receiving sensible advice.
        I am a qualified solicitor and am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

        Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

        If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi all, thanks for the advice. In answer to a few of the questions: yes, the property was only in my mother's name, and yes, it was a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975. He was never involved in the purchase of the property, and no work has every been done to it, it's as it was when she first purchased it and needs updating.

          Since posting, I took my solicitor's advice (a second opinion confirmed the same) that the best thing to do was to move towards mediation - my solicitor thinks it probably won't even get to a formal mediation, as we'll get an agreement typed up.

          I hope that's the case, but I'm still worried about it all.

          Any further advice welcome.
          Last edited by roger1moore; 25th January 2019, 07:09:AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by roger1moore View Post
            Hi all, thanks for the advice. In answer to a few of the questions: yes, the property was only in my mother's name, and yes, it was a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975. He was never involved in the purchase of the property, and no work has every been done to it, it's as it was when she first purchased it and needs updating.

            Since posting, I took my solicitor's advice (a second opinion confirmed the same) that the best thing to do was to move towards mediation - my solicitor thinks it probably won't even get to a formal mediation, as we'll get an agreement typed up.

            I hope that's the case, but I'm still worried about it all.

            Any further advice welcome.
            When did you get the Grant of Probate ?

            If it is more than 6 months ago then he is out of time for a claim under the Inheritance Act - this is important.

            If he is out of time,I don't see what there is to mediate about as he isn't in any position of strength.

            If he is still in time delay it further.

            Comment


            • #7
              Hi Roger1Moore,
              I'd agree with your solicitor. The fact that there is a 6mth time limit on bringing a claim is not the be all and end all. The Court does have discretion to extend the time limit in certain circumstances. Mediation is always recommended. With the guidance of the solicitor they will give you an indication of what a Court is likely to award if the matter was decided by them which gives a steer on the mediation side. It is always best to be seen as open to negotiation.

              In this situation your mother's partner may have gained some property rights although it is for him to prove it. The payment of half mortgage and bills would not in itself allow him any property rights but significant works done to the property for example which he has funded may do.

              It seems to me that you have been reasonable in offering him a home at the property whether for a period of time or till he chooses to move out or passes away himself (or meets someone else). If you are willing to do this then it would seem fair and reasonable. As you have already indicated n agreement can be drawn up being clear who is responsible for which bills insurance, repairs etc and when the property would have to be vacated by him. If he has anyone advising him then they will point out this is more than reasonable (provided he can't show there is some type of trust that has been created that could provide him any property rights).

              If he then insisted on pursuing this to Court they would more than likely take a dim view of his behaviour, particularly if he hasn't accepted an offer of a home while you remain the legal owner.

              Delay may not be the best way to deal as you want this sorted out.

              Hope this helps a bit and here if need any more pointers.

              I am a qualified solicitor and am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

              Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

              If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks for the advice again, it really does help.

                Quick update, so we're trying to arrange a mediation date, and I conceded on a few things already - dropped my inheritance act ruling, agreed to pay his expenses up till now and said he could live there with an agreement in place. So we move from court to mediation.

                His solicitors now want details of my earnings, savings, dependants etc as they want a piece of the estate - this changes the nature of his original plea, as at first he just wanted to live in the house. Naturally my solicitor is also asking for bank statements from his side to see what he was contributing, savings, earnings, pensions etc.

                I'm annoyed that he changed his plea - so annoyed in fact that I went round to see him.

                I asked what he wanted - he said to carry on living in the house, that was it. I said, but I'd offered him this. He said he didn't know that, his solicitors hadn't told him and he thought we weren't going to court anymore because we'd racked up big expenses (?). He then said he didn't know what his solicitors were asking for on his behalf anymore as he hadn't spoken to them in months.

                He also said again the house was rightfully his as he'd paid for it 50/50 - I reminded him that the house was only in my mother's name, as were all bills, she actually said he never contributed to it, they were never married and I'm her next of kin. I hadn't somehow duped the system, and my mother made it common knowledge that she wanted the house to go through me to her grandchildren, so it would have said that in a will.

                Two bizarre things, he didn't realise he would have to show his bank statements in mediation, or any other documents. And he was surprised that I had been able to read his original court statement, so knew exactly what he was claiming he contributed and details of his savings. He has more money than me, in savings, earnings and pensions, and I'm currently not in work.

                I spoke to my solicitor the next day - worst case scenario, if he had a good strong solid case, he might get 50% of the estate. I know he has no proof of contributions, and no joint bills or statements of any kind - he actually said, which I believe his case may rest on, that his solicitors will argue that he and my mother were basically husband and wife. I said that's rubbish, you're only husband and wife if you're married.

                My solicitor said we should test what he said about only wanting to live there, so we typed up a formal offer of an agreement, with terms and conditions. Now awaiting a response.

                Do actions like this factor into mediation? I know it's not quite like litigation in court, but it's not just looking at everyone's earnings etc then working out an amount for him, is it? Him living there for free until death carries a massive financial benefit anyway.

                I agreed to pay fees to settle and stop it going to court - he told me he's not worried about going to mediation or court or even appealing anymore as he doesn't have to pay for it, so is free to rack up costs. I think that's a huge misunderstanding - my solicitor says fees are allocated as part of the settlement at the end.

                This feels like it's becoming a farce. Anymore advice?
                Last edited by roger1moore; 1st February 2019, 12:24:PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  So how does he know he doesn't have to pay (or thinks it) if he hasn't talked to his solicitor recently? You only agreed to costs to date.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ostell View Post
                    So how does he know he doesn't have to pay (or thinks it) if he hasn't talked to his solicitor recently? You only agreed to costs to date.
                    Yes, clearly he is lying - is going for more, but is too cowardly to admit it to me. I'm pretty sure my formal offer will be rejected.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hi Roger1moore,

                      Mediation and Court proceedings continue in tandem effectively. The Court process keeps going until such time as the parties reach agreement and end the claim or the Court decides the outcome.

                      Mediation deals with things in a different way, negotiations had during mediation are not disclosed to the Court during any proceedings. Here are more options available in mediation for example apologies not just money settlements.

                      In order for the mediation to work it is it is necessary to have certain information to aid the process but it’s not enforceable. However, if one party refuses to provide info it becomes more difficult to come to any final settlement.

                      It seems he he is trying to frustrate things and pull the wool over your eyes unless he honestly doesn’t understand what is happening? His solicitor can’t do anything without his instructions and generally without payment or an agreement for payment.

                      Mediation is encouraged by the Court throughout the process and all I can suggest at this stage is keep going. Your solicitor is advising you and once you get to the meeting you will have a far better idea what is being alleged. As mentioned previously he would have to show he has a beneficial interest in the property and with your offer to allow him to remain there it is difficult to see what he is actually after. Do remember your solicitor has to warn you on the worst case scenario. There is a lot of movement in between the worst case and the best case.

                      The court proceedings continue and the parties are expected to comply with any orders such as directions to provide documents etc until the proceedings are ended by the parties.

                      I am a qualified solicitor and am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

                      Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

                      If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks again guys,

                        There have been developments and this is getting even more surreal. Even my solicitor thinks so.

                        I have been sent a counter offer - he wants a life interest in the property, all of his court fees paid, plus £150,000, which is a 50% share of my mother's pension (this is not part of the estate and he has already been considered for it by the trustees, as we both put in separate applications - his was completely unsuccessful. It's my understanding this won't be available to him).

                        By my calculation, he would stand to get more than me - he was never married to my mother, has his name on nothing either. While there was no will, this was definitely not what she wanted.

                        Also, he is apparently not willing to show bank statements, due to the time it will take to get them and the apparent delays and expense it would cause, and claims he has declared his other earnings and savings in his original court statement.

                        The way the letter is worded is a joke - he is apparently struggling to get over my mother's death and has been emotionally scarred by my attempts to force him from his home.

                        It goes on to say that if we go to mediation he wishes not to be in the room with me, as he does not wish to cause me further stress.

                        Is mediation still the best way? I'm tempted now to say let's go back to litigation, I'll get statements on various things and we'll sort it that way.

                        I've not done anything wrong, I've conceded on a lot of things to help reach an agreement, and he just keeps moving the goalposts.

                        It's still up to him to prove he has an interest, right? That's why I'm not going to see statements. What do you think?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Has this letter come from him, or his solicitors ?

                          Just bearing this in mind... he may not really know what's going on so may be worth giving him a quick call and saying you've received a letter from his sols and just wanted to check he had instructed them to send it etc.
                          I asked what he wanted - he said to carry on living in the house, that was it. I said, but I'd offered him this. He said he didn't know that, his solicitors hadn't told him and he thought we weren't going to court anymore because we'd racked up big expenses (?). He then said he didn't know what his solicitors were asking for on his behalf anymore as he hadn't spoken to them in months.
                          “We may not win by protesting, but if we don’t protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win.” Hetty Bower

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                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hi Roger1Moore,

                            Amazing how people can just assume they are entitled to something with no evidence whatsoever.

                            I would be inclined to carry on pushing for a mediation session but also get the claim moving. You have made a perfectly sensible offer to him imo which we're unsure if he has actually rejected or whether he is just trying his luck to see whether there is any further movement from your side as to how much you would give to make it all go away, so to speak.

                            Have a serious think about what you would be willing to settle for, to prevent litigation continuing but keep that close to your chest for the time being until you get to mediation. In the meantime also get the claim moving. It will mean that you are dealing with 2 things at once but it keeps things moving.

                            If at mediation he doesn't agree to anything then maybe at that stage you make a formal final last offer (basically what your best offer was at mediation) and carry on down the Court route. Get your solicitor to advise on what if any further offer may be advisable and also whether you can attach any penalties to the offer should it not be accepted, but you go on to do better in Court than if he'd accepted the offer, such as costs consequences for him.

                            It will always be for him to demonstrate he has an interest in the property and also to prove the payments he allegedly made above and beyond those that could reasonably be expected of a tenant.

                            If needs be the Court can order he produce documents during proceedings. Maybe it would be sensible if any further offer is to go to him that you also flag that if this isn't acceptable then suggest he order the statements that will be needed as it will now be decided by the Court. Does he have a solicitor again or is all this just coming from him? Hopefully if any letter to them is worded well pointing out the flaws in his thinking they will explain what he can and can't expect. Your solicitor should be able to tell if the letters (although coming via a solicitor) have basically been sent because they have been instructed to rather than on their advice, if you see what I mean.

                            If you can bear it keep both options open mediation and litigation so at least things are continuing to move forward rather than stagnating waiting for something to happen down one route before starting the next.
                            I am a qualified solicitor and am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

                            Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

                            If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks Amethyst, it's from his solicitors. There are elements of last week's conversation with him in there, and he's tried to use them against me. That could be a ploy to stop me from communicating directly with him again, but he is very dishonest. I don't believe that he hasn't spoken to his solicitors in months, and he's been very manipulative all the way through this.

                              Comment

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