Tag Archives: Executors

Bitter family feud over Mum’s houses and her Will

Children can be wicked and I thought my readers may be interested in such a case which has been recently decided in the Court of Session

Lord_Uist

Lord Uist

It involved a vulnerable 80-year-old Mum of three boys, Mrs Audrey Matossian, who was “persuaded” to hand over her three valuable houses to 2 of the brothers. The judge in the case, Lord Uist, said that these sons had a “dominant influence” and “there was an absence of independent advice and assistance.”

Two of the brothers had organised their own Solicitor (that she did not know) and drove their Mum to one of their houses where she met him. They had primed the Solicitor that their mother wanted to hand over the properties and he had prepared the documents ready for her to sign. She did, indeed, sign but, a few days later, she had her own Solicitor draw up a will appointing the third brother as Executor. As the judge said, that showed that she had no real intention of transferring the three properties to the brothers.

Clearly, the two boys cared nothing for their Mum because she ended up with no houses and a large Capital Gains Tax bill.

When Mum died, the executor raised an action asking the judge to “reduce” (reverse) those property transfers and he had very little hesitation in doing so, saying, in legal language, that she was vulnerable and they took advantage of her.

He was, in fact, very critical of all of the brothers who he said had subjected the court to the “undignified spectacle of a family feud”. None of them had backed down and they all wanted their day in court, he said.

Incidentally, the two brothers had the cheek to claim that, even if the judge were to reverse the transfers, they were entitled to compensation for the improvements that they had made to the house. The judge dismissed that, out of hand, saying that they should not gain from their bad intentions.

It goes to show that, sometimes, as Executor, it is worthwhile investigating the circumstances of an earlier transfer if the deceased was vulnerable at the time.

You can read the full judgement as well as a legal news report.

Bruce de Wert cropped.and websizeBruce de Wert

I am a Scottish Solicitor in private practice with over 25 years of experience and have 4 offices at Georgesons and Smiths Grant. As well as the standard legal business model, I also offer Online Divorces and, by a separate limited company, OnlineWills and Powers of Attorney.

If you wish to consult me, please e-mail me at [email protected] in the first instance.

Challenging Wills in Scotland – Part 1 – the basics


Challenging the will In this series of blogs, I shall be dealing with the main issues that I have experienced in dealing with claims on Estates.

That experience is from both sides, acting, on various occasions for the claimant and, on others, for the Executor.

I shall write, later, on the situation where there is no Will at all – or, at least, not one that can be found.

Looking at the big picture, when compared to England, there are few legal challenges to Wills in Scotland. This is because the law lays down strict rules whereby children and spouses, disappointed by the provision (or lack of it) in the Will can claim specific amounts or percentages of the estate of a deceased whereas, in England, the law is judge-made and each case is judged on it’s merits.

That is not to say that the manner of identifying the specific amount is simple. It is apparently so but subject to a number of complex quirks so, sometimes, it is worth challenging what is offered or, at least, having the calculation checked.

Co-habitees, incidentally, are in a special situation with their own rules and I intend to write about that, also.

Most of the cases I have dealt with relate to such claims but there are others where the challenge is much more fundamental and relates to the validity of the Will itself or, where there is no doubt as to its validity, it’s interpretation.

On other occasions, there are challenges to the actions of the Executor in implementing (or failing to implement) the Will of the deceased. Sadly, not everyone acts as they ought and, whilst most challenges succeed because of ignorance of the law (even from some Solicitors as it is complex and specialised), there are dishonest executors out there and even, very sadly (but, thankfully,  very rarely), dishonest Solicitors that need to be brought to book.

More soon.

Bruce de Wert cropped.and websizeBruce de Wert

I am a Scottish Solicitor in private practice with over 25 years of experience and have 4 offices at Georgesons and Smiths Grant. As well as the standard legal business model, I also offer Online Divorces and, by a separate limited company, Online Wills and Powers of Attorney.

If you wish to consult me, please e-mail me at [email protected] in the first instance.

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