• We're currently experiencing technical issues with our newsletter software, so our Dementia Talking Point monthly updates have been put on hold for now. We hope to restart the newsletter soon.

    Find out more >here<.

Probate Problem

Laina

New member
Feb 22, 2018
1
My Mum had Alzheimer's & recently passed away.
In 2006 my mum & step dad made mirror wills leaving everything to each other.
They later decided to change their Wills to leave their estates to their own children. However, when solicitor visited she deemed mum did not have capacity to make a new will but she went ahead & made a new one for my step dad.
Mum has now passed away but upshot is everything goes to step dad & on his death to his children. Mum would be horrified that me & my brother are effectively cut out. Step dad is losing capacity & refuses to make changes & of course his children support him.

Is there any way I can challenge this?
 

Amy in the US

Registered User
Feb 28, 2015
4,617
USA
@Laina, hello, and welcome to Talking Point. I'm sorry you have needed to find your way here.

May I please ask where you are located? Or more to the point, where the wills were created?
 

cobden 28

Registered User
Dec 15, 2017
67
My Mum had Alzheimer's & recently passed away.
In 2006 my mum & step dad made mirror wills leaving everything to each other.
They later decided to change their Wills to leave their estates to their own children. However, when solicitor visited she deemed mum did not have capacity to make a new will but she went ahead & made a new one for my step dad.
Mum has now passed away but upshot is everything goes to step dad & on his death to his children. Mum would be horrified that me & my brother are effectively cut out. Step dad is losing capacity & refuses to make changes & of course his children support him.

Is there any way I can challenge this?

Surely your Mum couldn't make a will for someone else i.e. your stepdad? Doesn't your stepdad have to make his own will for it to be valid - and of course there's the question of if this were the case, isn't the will made by your Mum for your stepdad therefore not valid at all so the earlier will should still stand?
 

Amethyst59

Registered User
Jul 3, 2017
5,749
Kent
The OP’s mother made a will leaving everything to the step dad. The step dad’s will leaves everything to his own children.
 

nicoise

Registered User
Jun 29, 2010
1,806
So your Mum’s unintended Will has been in place for some years?

Your only course of action now is to see a solicitor for legal advice as to whether you can do anything about this.

I would warn you that challenging Wills can be an expensive business if your solicitor feels you have a case - in the £10s of thousands.

If your Mum’s estate Is only small it may not be worth pursuing, however frustrating this feels.
 
Last edited:

Saffie

Registered User
Mar 26, 2011
22,514
Near Southampton
Surely your Mum couldn't make a will for someone else i.e. your stepdad? Doesn't your stepdad have to make his own will for it to be valid - and of course there's the question of if this were the case, isn't the will made by your Mum for your stepdad therefore not valid at all so the earlier will should still stand?
@cobden 28 You have misunderstood the post. The ‘she’ referred to is the solicitor not Laina’s mother,
I have no legal knowledge but I would have thought that if one of the Will changes could not have gone ahead then surely it was remiss of the solicitor to agree to change the other - morally though maybe not legally. However, whoever held LPA for your mother should surely have challenged this at the time if your mother had lost mental capacity. If this was your stepfather then perhaps he was failing in his duty of acting in your mother’s best interests. That’s a very fine thread for a challenge at this late stage I realise. I really sympathise as it seems your mother’s wishes are being ignored. Best wishes.[/QUOTE]
 
Last edited:

Beate

Registered User
May 21, 2014
12,021
London
If Mum would be so horrified that you are left nothing, why did she make a mirror will in the first place that left everything to Stepdad, and why didn't you protest back then? Is it because if Stepdad had died first, his money would have gone to your Mum and then ultimately to you?

People make stupid wills everyday. As long as they have mental capacity, there is nothing you can do. Sure, when Stepdad's will was changed it became unfair, but what was the solicitor to do? She can't change a will for someone she deems to have lost capacity, and should she have said to Stepdad, "sorry but your wife has lost capacity so you can't change your will either?" He was her client, if he wanted to change his will and had the capacity to do it, I don't see how she could have refused.

I also don't see how Stepdad, even if he was attorney for your Mum, has benefitted himself by changing his will. It was his money and he did not have to leave it to his wife or anyone in particular.
 

notsogooddtr

Registered User
Jul 2, 2011
941
Things can get very complicated when money is involved.Really not sure there is anything you can do about it.The solicitor hasn't done anything wrong as far as I can see.And if you put any pressure on your step father to change his will his family could challenge it.How would you have reacted if it was your mother who had changed her will rather than your step father?.Things are very raw following a bereavement,try to take some time to deal with the loss of your mother.
 

Shedrech

Volunteer Moderator
Dec 15, 2012
9,228
Yorkshire
hello @Laina
firstly, my condolences on your mum's passing; you must be missing her very much

I think most couples until recently wrote these 'mirror' wills, not realising the full implication of what that means for quite complicated family relationships.
It's a shame that when your stepdad's will was rewritten, he maybe didn't realise the full implications of what he was doing ie making no allowance for his wife's current wishes, as she was unable to change her will. I'm afraid, at that point, the writing was on the wall.
How would you have reacted if it was your mother who had changed her will rather than your step father?.
- personally, at the time I would have pointed out what this would mean for her husband's children and asked her to take that into account - and as things stand now, I would be asking her to act as though her husband's will had been changed, so that all the children received what each parent had wished - I believe that this could be done through a Deed of Variation
it's not just about inheriting money, it's about a parent's expressed wishes being given no weight by their spouse and the spouse's children; that's what deeply hurts
Laina, I hope that you have at least been able to have any of your mum's possessions that you would like to keep in remembrance of her.
 

nicoise

Registered User
Jun 29, 2010
1,806
Mirror wills were a tax efficient vehicle for avoiding IHT under the old rules before the introduction of being able to transfer the spouse’s unused Nil Rate Band - but are somewhat superseded these days.

My parents had mirror wills, and my Mum held true to her word after Dad died by keeping her Will pretty much the same, including a bequest to her stepdaughter, my dad’s child from his first marriage. Possibly that was influenced apart from integrity because she had been disinherited by her stepmother after her father’s death...it is just one of those things, but it hurts and tends to ruin ongoing extended family relationships...
 

Risa

Registered User
Apr 13, 2015
481
Essex
My parents both originally had mirror wills. A couple of years ago (when Mum had no capacity to change her will), Dad changed his as he wanted my sister and I to have some sort of inheritance and if everything is left to Mum, then it will be used for care home costs. As long as the person changing their will is of sound mind, it doesn't matter what they agreed with their partner previously.

Mirror wills are a very bad idea for anyone with complex family situations (like step families) as it is really up to the beneficiary to do the right thing with regards to bequests to their partner's children. Look what happened to actress Lynda Bellingham's estate when she died :(
 

love.dad.but..

Registered User
Jan 16, 2014
4,557
Kent
I have a friend whose partner died suddenly a few years ago ... he had not made a will she was left in a potentially very vulnerable situation.... the property arrangement was tenants in common so in law his equal share was left to his next of kin..his sister. Fortunately for my friend they got on very well and her immediate generous and kind reaction was of course my friend should have the house as that is what her brother would have intended so she arranged for that to happen. The same also for money in bank accounts held in his sole name.She was lucky and so thankful...unfortunately it it doesn't end so well for some