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    Jonathan Hardwood was a wealthy businessman who built up a substantial fortune from his businesses and investments. When Jonathan died in 1999, in his will he created what was described as a ‘Family Fund’. This ‘Fund’ was entirely separate from the rest of Jonathan’s estate, and was made up of a number of investment properties, cash in various accounts, and shares in Stock Exchange listed companies. The will stated that the ‘Fund’ was left to the executors of Jonathan’s estate ‘in the hope that they will use it wisely for the benefit of all my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, whenever born’.

    The executors of the estate were Jonathan’s son, Harold, and his daughter, Marjorie. Since Jonathan’s death, Harold and Marjorie have agreed to make payments to themselves out of the ‘Fund’ to buy their own homes, and have made payments to Marjorie’s son, Barry, when he got married and to Harold’s son, Raymond, to start up his own business.

    Harold died in September 2016. In his will, Harold appointed his widow, Wendy, to be the sole executrix of his estate and made her the sole beneficiary of his residuary estate for her lifetime, and on her death the estate was to be divided equally between Harold’s three children, Raymond, Amy and Georgia. Harold made no specific mention about the ‘Family Fund’ or what was to happen in relation to that Fund under his will.

    One of Harold’s children, Amy, who will turn 18 next month, has been in touch with Wendy to enquire about receiving some money from the ‘Family Fund’. Amy is planning to go to university next year and wants the money to fund her studies and other expenses whilst at university. Wendy, who is Amy’s step-mother, has told her that, before he died, Harold left strict instructions that under no circumstances should either Amy or Georgia receive any money from the ‘Fund’. This was as a result of an old family rift following an acrimonious divorce between Harold and his first wife, the mother of all three of his children, when Raymond had chosen to live with his father, but Amy and Georgia had remained with their mother.

    Advise Amy what the legal position is, and any remedies that may be open to her, in relation to the following matters:

    1. Whether Amy is entitled to receive payment from the ‘Family Fund’

    1. Another clause in Harold’s will directs that 10% of his net estate should be used to ensure that his beloved dog, Jess, is to be looked after and has a good life, and when Jess dies any money remaining is to be given to ‘dog welfare charities throughout the United Kingdom’.

    1. Marjorie has discovered since Harold’s death that for the 2 years or so prior to his death, without Marjorie’s agreement or permission, Harold had been withdrawing large sums of money from the ‘Family Fund’. Some of this money he had given to a local horse sanctuary to build new stables, some he had ‘invested’ in Wendy’s lingerie business, he had spent £30,000 on a brand new sports car and the rest of the money he had gambled on horse races and at a local casino. Although some money was replaced from Harold’s gambling winnings, the rest of the winnings was used to invest in shares in a variety of companies on the advice of Harold’s friend, Helen, an accountant whom he met at the casino.
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Updated: January 16, 2017

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