Inheritance dispute involving a trust

05 February 2024

Craig Ridge, Partner and Head of Contentious Probate and Trusts, and Georgia Stott, a Senior Associate in the team, acted for Mr E who, whilst still a child, had been the sole beneficiary of his uncle’s estate.

On turning 18, he became legally entitled to his inheritance, which had been held on trust for him by his mother and his uncle’s friend until he became an adult.

Unfortunately, his relationship with his mother was not particularly good. There were various issues, including concerns that she had used some of the inheritance for her own benefit. The trustees had not kept trust accounts which made it very difficult to understand precisely what had happened to our client’s inheritance over the years.

However, the main issue was that our client wanted to sell his late uncle’s property (which was now his) but his mother was living there and refused to move out. We tried negotiating with his mother but, despite many attempts by his mother to try and manipulate the situation by tugging at his emotions, agreement that she would move out of the property persistently evaded us. At one point she tried to mount her own challenge against the estate, arguing that she had been maintained by the deceased (her brother).

In the end we had to involve our colleagues in the property litigation team, who assisted our client in evicting his mother from the property. Ultimately, we were able to achieve a result that saw our client gain control of what was rightfully his.

This case is a classic example of just how emotionally charged cases of this nature can be. Things can get very personal, but the benefit of having a lawyer involved is that they can be the buffer between the parties, meaning any stress of dealing directly with your opponent, who is often someone known to you and with whom you once shared a close relationship, is reduced.

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