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How secure is a will?


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#1 harper_

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:49 AM

Basically, my sister in law is a sociopath. DH has 3 sisters, 2 of them are lovely and they and DH & MIL get on fabulously. But crazy SIL (I'll refer to her as Norma Bates) has virtually been ostracized from the family because of her behaviour. They send birthday cards and phone her once a year as a courtesy call. I've never actually met her, DH refuses to introduce me and she's never met our kids. Their Dad passed away a long time ago and a few years ago when their Grandparents (dads side)passed away, as Norma was the oldest and the favourite she was left their house plus over 200K. The will stipulated something like "apportion the money to your siblings as you see fit". Which meant they got nothing. She's done lots of things that justify why she has been ostracized, taking her Mum to court because she somehow thought she had been cheated out of some money from her Dads will - she was claiming for $5000. This dragged on for over a year and cost both of them way more in legal fees. In the end MIL settled. However all the while this was going on Norma was turning up out of the blue on MILs doorstep 'for coffee' or lunch pretending there was no court case going on! Needless to say MIL feels very uncomfortable around her and although maintains some semblance of contact, tries to avoid her if possible. MIL is quite well off, multiple properties etc but is very worried about what will happen when she passes away i.e she's convinced Norma will challenge the will, just for sh*ts and giggles, she doesn't need the money.  So she's basically struck a deal with Norma, given her a house and written her out of the will, which Norma has agreed to. However the whole family is still convinced that she will challenge the will. I hear about wills being successfully challenged all the time. Which concerns me. It's not that we desperately want MILs money or anything, we just don't want her hard earned assets going somewhere she doesn't want it to go. Especially to a person that really is not a good person. So if anyone can provide any information/help/advice it would be greatly appreciated! Hope that makes sense original.gif

Edited by harper_, 27 February 2013 - 10:55 AM.


#2 jupiter71

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:52 AM

I would be extremely wary in this situation if I was your MIL. I think she needs to seek legal advice.

#3 qak

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:56 AM

Your MIL needs to see a solicitor (a specialist in estate matters) and explain the situation, so that it can be allowed for in her Will, or possibly transfer her assets to another entity to protect her wishes.  

If she has not already given the house away (wow) she might be able to protect that somehow.

#4 elizabethany

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:03 AM

She would be better off to leave the house in the will than to give it away before hand and have nothing in the will.  It is a lot easier to be sucessful for "I was left out" than "I didn't get enough".

I agree with the PP's though, talk to a solicitor.

#5 Tikiboo16

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:04 AM

Wow... you could have written about my SIL... She's been trying to take us to court for years over some issues that she has mostly invented herself... She has cost her parents (both of whom are very old and on the pension) a bucketload of money due to matters that didn't involve her at all, and she turns up on her mother's doorstep expecting to be welcomed and love (well... before FIL put an AVO on her at least).

I too have worried about what she might do when the will comes into action... She is constantly threatening legal action for the most ridiculous things, I don't doubt for a second that she'll be contesting a will in which she has been mostly written out of. I don't want the in-laws money either, but I know DH is very sentimentally attached to the family home, and it would be soul destroying for him to see her get a chunk of it after all she's put the family through.

Maybe our SILs have the same mental issue OP?

Sorry.. I guess I'm no help. But I will be watching this thread with interest

#6 RedBob

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:09 AM

Please seek legal advice. Wills can and are overturned if one party feels they haven't been treated fairly, and takes it to court.

#7 mollybot

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:14 AM

Get legal advice. In WA we have discovered that if you put in a codicil that "I do not want this specific person to inherit anything" then that will be respected by the Courts.

HOWEVER.

This will not stop someone from contesting the Will. You can't stop someone from doing this.

You can get the Will written in such a way that it can't be undone. A good solicitor will inform their client that the Will cannot be successfully challenged. But a psycho client doesn't have to take that advice.

The only other little trick that we have come across is that if someone DOES decide to contest the Will despite this, you can have a preliminary Court hearing to apportion costs (check the exact wording of this in your State). When they discover that they will be up for, say $150k in your costs and theirs *when they lose*, they might well back off.

Good luck ! Its a total b*tch and I know just how you feel !

Edited by mollybot, 27 February 2013 - 11:15 AM.


#8 zzgirl

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:15 AM

She has every right to challenge the will, and she will more than likely win a portion of the estate.  You need to find out the laws in your state, but your MIL can 'attach' a document to her will explaining why she has allocated her estate in the way she has chosen.  Contact a solicitor or your states 'Public Trustee' to get free advice.

You guys would have gotten more in the end probably if your MIL left the house to her in the will and you guys challenged the will!!!

#9 harper_

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:15 AM

QUOTE (Tikiboo16 @ 27/02/2013, 12:04 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Wow... you could have written about my SIL... She's been trying to take us to court for years over some issues that she has mostly invented herself... She has cost her parents (both of whom are very old and on the pension) a bucketload of money due to matters that didn't involve her at all, and she turns up on her mother's doorstep expecting to be welcomed and love (well... before FIL put an AVO on her at least).

I too have worried about what she might do when the will comes into action... She is constantly threatening legal action for the most ridiculous things, I don't doubt for a second that she'll be contesting a will in which she has been mostly written out of. I don't want the in-laws money either, but I know DH is very sentimentally attached to the family home, and it would be soul destroying for him to see her get a chunk of it after all she's put the family through.

Maybe our SILs have the same mental issue OP?

Sorry.. I guess I'm no help. But I will be watching this thread with interest


Wow yeah very similar. What perturbs me about SIL, is that MIL is approaching 70, is frail and suffers from anxiety issues, yet she still took her to court!

Also just to clear up - SIL already has the house from MIL. MIL has 3 other houses plus a substantial amount of money, a lot of tied up in shares, bonds and other investments. And as far as I know, MIL has had a will drawn up by a solicitor, which states more or less than SIL gets nothing. However this is still contestable isn't it? I remember a case last year  where a wealthy woman left all her money to a cats home and her daughters successfully challenged the will. So even if a solicitor draws up a will, it's still not secure, or is it?

#10 zzgirl

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:27 AM

No will is secure.  There are eligible people who may contest it and your SIL is one of them.

If she contest the will, given the large number of assets, I would suspect she would receive a portion. The court would take into account she has already received an asset though.  Your mother in law needs to document and sign the reasons she transfered an asset to your SIL and this will assist the court in making a decision.

#11 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:40 AM

Like PPs said, she needs to state in her will flat out why the SIL is being excluded:

Already received inheritance from paternal grandparents to exclusion of her siblings.
Already been gifted a house from her mother's estate.

Any reasons for more money being allocated to the other children (say if they provide assistance, have medical issues / special needs, they have (more) children etc).



#12 adl

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:48 AM

Go to see a solicitor that is an accredited specialist in this area,  

yes adding direct statements to a Will as to why X was not included help as evidence that X considered them and had a reason why not to benefit them,  does havt to be a good or even valid reason, ,  as does acknowledgement of a gift or transfer of property while living,  evidnence she has already benefited etc.  

A properly drafted Will is necessary,  but of course anyone can raise a claim reagrdless of whether valid or likely to succeed but there are ways to manage it as ppl have already suggested.

I used to advise clients just to spend it before hand LOL... cant fight over nothing!!!




#13 harper_

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:51 AM

QUOTE (adl @ 27/02/2013, 12:48 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I used to advise clients just to spend it before hand LOL... cant fight over nothing!!!


This is what we are thinking! Give it all away before hand. I would love everything to go to a dogs home or something, SIL hates animals.

#14 hjv

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:51 AM

Meggs1 is right - the will needs to be very clear about why she is being excluded.  This makes it clear to the court that :
a) it was a conscious decision on the part of your MIL and
b) the reasons why she chose to leave her estate the way she did

However, it still can be contested.  BUT  she is less likely to win.
She really need to sit down with a solicitor who specialises in wills and give full details of the background so they can make the will as watertight as possilble

#15 harper_

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:59 AM

There is some really good information here. Thanks original.gif BTW SIL is a fairly senior police officer (I have no idea how she passed the Psych tests!) who has recently declared she wants to return to uni to study law! Awesome original.gif

Also MIL is in the UK. Crazy sister and 1 nice sister live there. DH and his other sister emigrated to Perth. The nice sister living in the UK also wants to emigrate to Australia, but can't as she doesn't want to leave her Mum at the mercy of Norma. A messy situation.

Edited by harper_, 27 February 2013 - 12:06 PM.


#16 sarkazm76

Posted 27 February 2013 - 12:15 PM

Egads.... tell her to start liquidating her assets now and distributing it NOW to your DH and nice sisters - or put it in trust for the grandkids.  Don't leave anything for the will except what she needs to last her the next 10-20 years.

Also, not sure how it works over in the UK, but check who is the executor of the will?  Who is her power of attorney?  So basically who will be in charge of the estate and taking care of it after she passes?


#17 ~elle~

Posted 27 February 2013 - 12:25 PM

Also check who will be in charge of her affairs if she cannot conduct herself financially/ medically / mentally. It's a sort of power of attorney that needs to be set up prior to her becoming unable to manage herself.

Have heard various stories on here about how rellies have gotten in and wiped out an elderly persons assets and by the time they pass away there is nothing / or very little in the will or debt.

If she can get her to allocate her assets now - gifting them versus leaving them to be fought over in a will- will leave her wishes fullfilled and hopefully give her peace of mind.

#18 Beancat

Posted 27 February 2013 - 12:36 PM

i dont know how the law works but I can tell you this.

My mother was an only child and when her mother died (after her father had already passed) she was left $1000 and the balance went to her mother's sister.  My grandmother explicityly stated why my mother was only given $1000 however she successfully contested the will and got 50% of the estate.  They were both as bad as each other with their lives and coniving, but the court still ruled very favourably in my mother's direction.  It took about 2-3 years to sort out, but my mother persisted and got what she wanted.

#19 Beancat

Posted 27 February 2013 - 12:36 PM

i dont know how the law works but I can tell you this.

My mother was an only child and when her mother died (after her father had already passed) she was left $1000 and the balance went to her mother's sister.  My grandmother explicityly stated why my mother was only given $1000 however she successfully contested the will and got 50% of the estate.  They were both as bad as each other with their lies and coniving, but the court still ruled very favourably in my mother's direction.  It took about 2-3 years to sort out, but my mother persisted and got what she wanted.

#20 Tikiboo16

Posted 27 February 2013 - 12:44 PM

QUOTE (Beancat @ 27/02/2013, 01:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
i dont know how the law works but I can tell you this.

My mother was an only child and when her mother died (after her father had already passed) she was left $1000 and the balance went to her mother's sister.  My grandmother explicityly stated why my mother was only given $1000 however she successfully contested the will and got 50% of the estate.  They were both as bad as each other with their lies and coniving, but the court still ruled very favourably in my mother's direction.  It took about 2-3 years to sort out, but my mother persisted and got what she wanted.


Hmmmm... good for your Mother, but very scary for me

#21 Gumbette

Posted 27 February 2013 - 12:48 PM

I agree with PP that MIL should perhaps start distributing her assets now - why hold onto what she will invariably give you all at a later date anyway, another benefit is that she will still be around to see you guys enjoy it.

#22 GoneWithTheWhinge

Posted 27 February 2013 - 01:10 PM

Be cautious about liquidating and dishing out assets now. As she is in the UK estates over 325000 UKP are subject to inheritance tax. This would be applied to any assets gifted in the 7 years before her death (these are counted as part of the estate if you get what I mean) The inheritance tax rate is 40% and would be paid out before the rest of the estate is shared to its beneficiaries.

Seeing as by the sounds of it your MIL has a sizeable estate she NEEDS to seek legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in inheritance tax avoidance as there are ways around things for many people.

#23 Fairey

Posted 27 February 2013 - 01:22 PM

I'm still gobsmacked that your SIL already got ALL of your FIL's will and didn't divide it (I hope I've written that correctly).

Your MIL definitely needs to source legal advice. I wouldn't be giving SIL diddly squat if I was MIL though.

#24 harper_

Posted 27 February 2013 - 02:02 PM

QUOTE (Fairey @ 27/02/2013, 01:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I'm still gobsmacked that your SIL already got ALL of your FIL's will and didn't divide it (I hope I've written that correctly).

Your MIL definitely needs to source legal advice. I wouldn't be giving SIL diddly squat if I was MIL though.


She got all of her Grandads  will and didn't divide it including a house. For some reason DPs grandparents had a very strong bond with SIL, but not with the other 3 younger ones. She's the eldest and as they got older and more frail spent more and more time with them - and hey presto she gets a house and $$... She really pulled the wool over their eyes.

#25 GenWhy

Posted 28 February 2013 - 06:49 AM

My grandad's elderly sisters got into a spat over who should have received what from their father's will. They went to court so many times that the estate basically went bankrupt. The only profiteers were lawyers.

Definitely use the codicil but be aware it can still be contested. We were told to leave something to everyone - whether it's a hanky or a photo album etc, it still shows you thought of them when writing the will. Easier to contest a will for leaving someone nothing than to contest what you were actually left.




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