You and the Law – 4th August 2009

Stepped over

My father divorced my mother and re-married. He died some years ago, and my stepmother has died recently.

My father always said that he’d left a will, but we never heard anything about it and I wondered whether my brother and I might be entitled to anything whether or not our stepmother made a will. She did have two sons of her own. GS

You could carry out a search at the district probate registry to find out if your father made a will. However, if your father didn’t have much to leave, or held everything in joint names with your stepmother, it’s possible probate won’t have been necessary, in which case the search would draw a blank.I think you would have heard about it at the time if your father had left you something.

If he didn’t make a will, it’s likely that everything will have gone to your stepmother unless he was quite well-off. You won’t have any call on your stepmother’s estate now unless she has remembered you in her will.

Sunday driver

What’s the law on Sunday working and religious beliefs? I’ve worked for a company for 14 years as an HGV driver, and last year was forced to sign a new contract which means we have to work weekends and bank holidays. I objected but didn’t want to be sacked. I’m told the Human Rights legislation may mean I don’t have to work on Sundays? JA

Unless you have strong religious beliefs, I don’t think you’ll have a case. If your religion bars you from working on Sundays, it’s possible your union would take up your cause under the act on the basis that your right to practice your religion is being infringed. To date, the only successes in this area have been by ethnic minorities under the Race Relations Act.

You could of course have attempted to bring a claim for constructive dismissal over the change to your contract, but it would have been risky and you would probably have been without a job at the end of it.

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