Probate Law, Test your knowledge! - Difficult scenario

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danielconnelly
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Here is the situation that has been dragging on for two years.

Mother has two sons. One son lives in house and starts business (farm) together. One son moves away.

Mother dies and her assets are left 50-50 between the sons. What do they get in inheritance?

Complications to consider:

The house is mortgaged (for about £50K) to fund the business. House is worth £400k.
Father-in-law (not actually married to mother) still lives in house - what are his rights?
Bills are now due, in the order of £2k, to the nursing home.

Please ask any further questions you think you need to solve this puzzle.
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Bambilicious
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(Original post by danielconnelly)
Here is the situation that has been dragging on for two years.
Mother has two sons. One son lives in house and starts business (farm) together. One son moves away.
Mother dies and her assets are left 50-50 between the sons. What do they get in inheritance?
The house is mortgaged (for about £50K) to fund the business. House is worth £400k.
Father-in-law (not actually married to mother) still lives in house - what are his rights?
Bills are now due, in the order of £2k, to the nursing home.

Please ask any further questions you think you need to solve this puzzle.
Is this an actual estate or an academic question?

If it's an academic question then presumably you haven't given all the information in the question?

If it's a real estate then a student forum isn't the right place to be obtaining advice! It sounds like the Executors are out of their depth dealing with this estate and so they should gather together the Will, all paperwork relating to the estate assets & debts, the business and what they have done so far and make an appointment to see a specialist probate solicitor for advice.
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danielconnelly
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It's an actual estate and currently with solicitors. I'm the grandson trying to make sense of it all!

I thought some students might have insight on a subject like this as I'm not overly familiar with probate law.

I think the executors are the sons (my father and uncle if you will) - does this complicate things further?

Can the "father-in-law" put in for some of the will as he's been living there 36 years?
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danielconnelly
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By the way, I'm not looking for legal advice as such - just clarity on the situation.
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Bambilicious
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Thanks for clarifying. It sounds like the estate is going to be quite complex to sort out so your best bet is to ask your questions to the solicitors. You will have to do this through your father though, as he is their client.

(Original post by danielconnelly)
Can the "father-in-law" put in for some of the will as he's been living there 36 years?
Not an easy question to answer without all of the facts. I'm not sure exactly who you mean was living in the house? If it was your grandfather then there are various ways in which he might have acquired a claim against the house or the estate. If it was his father then it is less likely, but a lot more information would be needed to establish this.

In the situation you described I would've expected grandmother's Will to include more detailed provision than just 50:50 to the children!
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danielconnelly
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The "father" is unrelated. Essentially he was the grandmother's boyfriend. Does him living there for 36 years mean he has a claim to continue to live there? ie. if the house were to be sold, can the courts request provisions be made for him - bear in mind that he has his own money and already renting a flat (which he's not moved in to!)

I believe the will is that simple and why there is much confusion. Is this really the most complex probate situation or can this be resolved? The brother who stayed in the house is unwilling to cooporate.

Is it true that it can be left to go to probate court (is there such a thing) or do you have to force it to court?

Thanks in advance for your responses btw!
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Annie72
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(Original post by danielconnelly)
Here is the situation that has been dragging on for two years.

Mother has two sons. One son lives in house and starts business (farm) together. One son moves away.

Mother dies and her assets are left 50-50 between the sons. What do they get in inheritance?

Complications to consider:

The house is mortgaged (for about £50K) to fund the business. House is worth £400k.
Father-in-law (not actually married to mother) still lives in house - what are his rights?
Bills are now due, in the order of £2k, to the nursing home.

Please ask any further questions you think you need to solve this puzzle.

Was there a will or did the mum die without making one? If so she died in whats called "Intestacy" and as such there is a line of beneficiaries.

Thus:

http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/englan..._intestacy.htm

Also if there was no will ( I dont know why I assume there isnt) then someone will have to act as an administrator for the estate .I know you have to fill out a form and pay the court a fee of £105.Is there any reason why this case has dragged on so long?

As you can see I have some experience of this type of thing
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danielconnelly
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Yeah, there was definitely a will and it's the old fashioned way - "my sons will share my assets equally, 50/50" kind of will. I haven't seen it personally so don't know exactly how it reads.
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Annie72
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(Original post by danielconnelly)
Yeah, there was definitely a will and it's the old fashioned way - "my sons will share my assets equally, 50/50" kind of will. I haven't seen it personally so don't know exactly how it reads.
Well in that case, then it seems pretty straight forward as far as the sons are concerned.As for the mums boyfriend, well what does he think, do you know?.It may be that he is ok with the sons inheritance, maybe not I think he can contend if it he so wishes.Re the mortgage, whose name is the house in, I know you can get that changed if needs be,you just have to contact the Land Registry people.The nursing home debt( and any other debts outstanding) should be paid from any money that the mum left before it is divided up.
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danielconnelly
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It seems pretty straight forward....But

...the complication lies with the business (half owned by one son, half owned by the mother).

If the house is deemed to be part of the business [as it's mortgaged for use in the business] then am I right to assume that one son will get 75% and one son will get 25%. What chance is there of this scenario?

There was no cash left. Just assets (the house).
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Annie72
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(Original post by danielconnelly)
It seems pretty straight forward....But

...the complication lies with the business (half owned by one son, half owned by the mother).

If the house is deemed to be part of the business [as it's mortgaged for use in the business] then am I right to assume that one son will get 75% and one son will get 25%. What chance is there of this scenario?

There was no cash left. Just assets (the house).

So the business is now owned by one son entirely.Not too sure about the house to be honest, I'd still say the sons will get as per what is instructed in the will. But you might have to get some legal advice about the house/business and how its all divided up. You can go to the Citizens Advice Bureau for free advice.
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toomanylawbooks9
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The father in law could have a claim under the Inheritance (Family and Dependants) provisions Act 1975. However this has to be done six months after probate of death.

The father in law's claim would depend on his own circumstances so you will need to ask the questions of what are his earnings, savings, any disabilities. This will all sure how dependant he was on the mother, it does not matter that they were not married as this act applies to relatives and non relatives.

The important part is the debts, i.e. the 50k mortgage and 2k nursing home debts.

You would need to ask whether there was any clauses in the will concerning how the debts are managed, this is fairly common in wills. If there is no clauses the debt is taking out the residue unless contrary intention is shown i.e. any outstanding debts taken out of my....

The residue is basically the money left over after giving out all the assets. So you will need to ask whether the mother also had any personalty property for example bank accounts (fairly common), valuables in the home.

If there residue does not cover these debts then it is taking out the cost of the home, unless one of the sons decides to take over the mortgage. All you have to do then is change names. Good idea to question whose names are on the mortgage.

Also question the names of those on the farm, how many employees etc? good idea to get an actual scale of it. Some farms are actually classed as "companies" so good to find out if any documentation.

I'm a third year law LLB student studying Wills & probate who can't sleep, so thanks got my brain ticking!
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