APS Legal & Associates

Intestate Family Feuds: A Case Study

In a messy case involving a deceased man, who died intestate, a son has accused his estranged family of withdrawing the information that his father had died.

Shockingly, John Steele only found out that his father, William, had died fourteen months after the funeral had taken place.

John, 55, instigated legal proceedings with the desire of inheriting his father’s estate.

The relationship between son, John, and father, William, was a rocky one after John was placed into care following a difficult divorce between his parents; remaining in care until he was eighteen.

Having reunited in 1994, the pair attempted to repair their relationship. However, the distance between John in Nottingham, England, and William in Lanarkshire, Scotland, meant that father and son usually talked on the phone rather than meeting in person.

Having investigated the case, John found that his uncle, Eddie Steele, was the executor to William’s estate. Eddie had signed to say that William had two surviving bothers and no children; making himself and his brother William’s next of kin and likely to inherit the £90,000 estate.

Following the discovery of his uncle’s oversight, John instructed his law firm Gibson Kerr to contest the rights to the estate.

Because John was the legal next of kin, the money will now be passed to him.

Following the decision, John said: “I wasn’t told my dad had died and was robbed of the chance to kiss him goodbye when I missed his funeral.

“It isn’t about the money. It’s the principle. I didn’t have my dad while I was growing up. But once we met up, we developed a close relationship and we were always speaking on the phone.”

Despite the case now being resolved, William’s brother, also called John, has highlighted that William did not enjoy the relationship with his son and did not want him at the funeral.

John Steele, brother of the deceased, claimed: “John only came on the phone 14 months after William died.

“I don’t want my brother’s money and neither does Eddie.”

The case highlights the clear importance of having a transparent and up to date Will. Understanding the specific instructions of the deceased would have avoided the unpleasant legal proceedings.

Have you been involved with similar cases? Should the estate always pass to the next of kin?

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