Your legal questions answered by Fahmida Ismail, Partner at Sydney Mitchell LLP. As featured in Worcester News 6th January 2015.

Q. My brother died 12 months ago and left a will giving £5,000 to me and £5,000 to my youngest sister. But to the third sister he gave £140,000. Shortly before he died my brother drove me to her house, perhaps trying to make it right, but at the time I didn’t understand what they were getting at. Can we contest the will?

A. You wouldn’t be successful. Under the family provision legislation people have obligations to their spouses, their children and any dependants. If they neglect these the courts can alter their wills to give those who were neglected their dues. Otherwise people are entitled to leave their money as they see fit. Unless you can claim dependency – ie you can show that you were being partly or wholly maintained by your brother at the time of his death – you will have no claim on his estate.


Q. I have put down a deposit on a new-build property. On the plans and at the showhouse there is a window in the en-suite bathroom upstairs, but my house has now been built without this window. Can I insist that the window is installed? So far contracts have not been exchanged.

A. You, or the solicitor carrying out your conveyancing work, should check the small print of your contract carefully. I would be surprised if you haven’t exchanged contracts at this stage, even if the money hasn’t changed hands (“completion”). On the face of it you will have a good case to insist either on a reduction in the price or in the reinstatement of the window. But the contract may allow for “minor” deviations from the plans. You may then have to argue about what constitutes a “minor” change. The building firm may have a dispute resolution procedure.


Q. A 90-year-old relative has to go into a care home. She has lived in a council flat for 50 years. Is her family liable to foot the bills for her care?

A. No, unless she gave you her life savings recently, or she bought her council flat and gave it to you to avoid paying the care home fees. If your relative has less than £14,250 the cost of her stay in the home will be met by the local authority and out of her income, with the NHS supplying the “care” aspect. Her family shouldn’t be called on to provide financial support.

For further information on any of the issues raised, please contact Fahmida Ismail on 0121 698 2200 or fill in our online enquiry form.

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