You and the Law – 15th March 2011

Withholding gift

My parents were executors of my grandmother’s Will.  She left everything to my mother except a diamond necklace that she left to my sister.  My mother and my sister don’t get on, and my sister has never received the necklace.  Does a beneficiary who doesn’t receive a bequest have any redress against an executor, and is there any time limit on this?  SL

Your sister is entitled to the necklace and it belongs to her without time
limit.  She could, if necessary, sue her parents.  If the necklace has been
sold, or has been lost or given to someone else, your parents would have to
compensate your sister unless they could convince the court that they acted
honestly and reasonably.  They may, for instance, have been unable to find
the necklace among your grandmother’s possessions after her death.

Fair settlement

About 12 years ago, a relative married a widower with two young children.  In recent years he made life difficult for her and finally evicted her with only her personal possessions.  The house was in joint names so I assume she will be entitled to half its value.  I was wondering whether she would have a claim on the furniture, household effects and his high value pension fund?  AC

If the couple can’t reach agreement about how to divide up their property,
they may have to ask the court to decide.  I take it the children are still living with the father, in which case, depending on their respective financial circumstances, a sale might well be delayed until the children leave school.
Hopefully however he would be able to raise a lump sum.  The court could
certainly order that your relative receives a share of her husband’s pension
and a fair division of the contents.  She should see a solicitor to ensure
she receives a fair settlement.

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