I make no apology for the airing of dirty laundry and tawdry family behaviour in what follows. I’m as amazed and amused as you might be;
The cast, a family of 8; 5 boys, 3 girls :
#1 Son – Australia / #2 Son – England / #3 Son (#6 child) - New Zealand #4 Son (#7 child) England #5 Son (#8 child) - unknown
#1 Sister – England (#3 child) / #2 Sister (#4 child) - Norfolk / #3 Sister (#5 child) – Derby
- My mother died suddenly and unexpectedly, and without a will.
- There are 8 children, and we all live in dispersed places through the world, I’m in New Zealand, I have a brother in Australia. The rest of the family are salted throughout England.
- Only one child, #1 sister lived in proximity to where the mother was living, in a sheltered accommodation (granny ghetto), and spent a fair amount of time with her.
- That we were from a poor background led us to assume that the ‘estate’, such as it was, consisted only of a small amount of money in a Post Office account.
- It was suggested, by #2 Son, and it was a good suggestion, that should the mother die then that fund should cover the cost of the funeral and anything left to go to the #1 sister.
And it turns out that on her death we know that there was at least a HSBC banking account with some money in it.
Part the Second – the waiting bit – And this is where it went a bit wrong…….
We have a brother who for whatever reason has decided to go awol. He’s been unheard of for a few years. His choice. #1 Sister decided to tell the HSBC that there were only 7 children, which raised a few eyebrows, and caused some discussion between us, we all by consensus acknowledge his fair entitlement to inclusion in the family (As if that’s not the law anyway). #4 son was volunteered to take things in hand and to take legal steps to become the administrator of the estate, since settling with the HSBC would have been impossible with only 7 of 8 signatures required.
A year or so (quickly) went past and I, in a fit of pique, decided to contact the family (Actually rather un-tactfully I put a post on FB) about how I was getting a bit miffed about not knowing what was happening. I got a fair old mouthful of feedback from the brothers (and wives of brothers) about how I needed to take a chill pill.
#4 son then starts to pursue vigorously the steps to become an administrator, which means swearing something or other in front of a judge or some such. Very important, and clearly it comes with a bunch of requirements and obligations, such as accounting for all the estate money, and assigning it to the right places.
#1 sister is asked, politely, to provide a statement or receipts of the money spent from the post office account (As mentioned above), as part of that. Also a general enquiry was made to the banking system to discover any other banking accounts that may have been active.
#1 sister sends a letter and at the end turns on the family
“May I remind all my family that on mum’s birthday it was agreed that as I had looked after mum for many years that when she died I would get everything when she passed. The agreement made still stands.
I do not want anything to do with anyone in my family. So you can take all the bank a/c money & stick it where the sun does not shine. Please do not bother me again.”
The list of expenses was a mish-mash of things, but included some items of dubious veracity, and an admission that about 50% of the money that was left had been taken by her for personal expenses and ”by this agreement”.
Part the third – the bit where you go mmmm…
That’s ok. That there are some dubious expenses listed Is fine, it’s nit-picking to go over it with a fine tooth comb and be picky to the Nth degree, but does raise the hackles of the family who want at this point to have a completely fair an open understanding of what is what.
And all this is ok except for a couple of things,
- Not all the family made this agreement (not that it’s not a sensible and fair sounding thing).
- Turns out from the general enquiry to the banking system that there was another building society account ! Who knew?!
Indeed who knew? #1 sister knew and had produced a statutory declaration signed by her which stated she was legally entitled to the money, and had been paid out in full. #4 son has requested a copy of the declaration as part of his administrator status.
Follows though is a bit of response from me and fury from #1 Son, #2 Son, and #4 Son. Along the lines that “Any agreement that was made only covered the post office account” and that a building society account was in place was unknown at the time (but not by everyone it seems). The #2 and #3 sisters have been silent on this issue so far between the whole family, they may have or may offer something to #4 son in due course.
What is clear that #1 Sister may have made a bit of a mistake. She’s clearly done something that has upset the family and gone against any spirit of agreement or understanding. It might not even be strictly legal.
From the ensuing emails the ongoing consensus seems to be at this point that
- It’s not about the money (as if it ever was – the amounts are in reality small).
- It’s about fair, and everyone being given the chance to say what happened to the money, and not have some arbitrary “you said in passing I could have it all”.
- Those that have an opinion don’t think that the money is recoverable from #1 sister.
- Those that have an opinion seem to agree that a legal recourse might be required to make a point.
I’m glad we live so far disbursed from each other, reasoned and judged emails, I think, are the way we’re going to resolve this, and resolve it we will. Can you imagine this as an afternoon meeting that you wouldn’t want to be at. I have to point out too that MrsPdubyah is convinced that there are more skeletons to uncover, such as the insurance policies that are yet to come to light.