You and the Law – 22nd November 2011

Unfair will

My mother says she is leaving the house to my brother and sister and just £5,000 to me when she dies.  I am 50 and looking after my mother, while my brother and sister enjoy their freedom.  Can she do this?  CT

Children who receive less than they’d hoped for from their parent’s wills generally speaking have little chance of claiming more unless they were financially dependant on the parent at the time of their death.  However, if you live in the same house as your mother then execution of the will would make you homeless.  If your mother really does divide up her property in this way when the time comes a court may well agree that you are morally entitled to more, and at that stage you would be advised to see a solicitor.

Getting my money back

Just over a year ago I lent my son and his wife £7,000.  They have now split up, and my daughter-in-law is taking over the house and buying my son out.  The money they owe me has not been mentioned.  Is there anything I can do to get it back?  FL

The key issue here is to prove that the money was in fact a loan.  There’s a general presumption, where parents are involved, that any money changing hands represents a gift unless there’s evidence to the contrary.  So it will be handy if you can show that some repayment has been made, or you can produce a note saying “thanks for the loan”.  If all else fails there must at least have been a discussion about how and when the money was to be repaid.  You can sue either your son or your daughter-in-law or both.  But it would be advisable to act quickly before the house is transferred over to your daughter-in-law.  You will probably need a solicitoris help.

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