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Probable inheritance - touchable after divorce?

  • DarwinsTerrier
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07 Aug 12 #347846 by DarwinsTerrier
Topic started by DarwinsTerrier
Hello nice folks

Quick summary...

Divorce is in progress (nisi due in an estimated couple of weeks). One daughter, aged almost 14; one house, worth 215K, mortgage of around 100K.

Wife went off with her (now former) boss in September-ish last year, and (as of June) they have set up home together. (I found out four days before Christmas.)

He''s pretty well off (put it this way: despite going through a divorce himself, he''s not having to sell the Aston Martin).

Neither of us have particularly impressive incomes (me 17K gross, her about 13K (part time)).

Plan was (and mediation notes state), Clean Break. Daughter (at her initial suggestion) to share her time roughly equally between us, and hence childcare costs to do the same. Thanks to my dad (not loaded, but with a pretty comfortable cushion behind him), I buy her out, keep our daughter''s home so she has some stability / continuity at least.

So, she goes off with about 60K in her back pocket, lovely jubbly. Things are remarkably amicable.

However... In March, my dad (85) goes and gets himself diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, with a prognosis of "months rather than years". Bit of a bugger, especially since he stopped smoking (who didn''t smoke back in the ''40s?) in 1968. He seems to be currently beating the odds, but still. I''m his only offspring.

Now, obviously if he doesn''t make it till we''re completely split, whatever I inherit will be part of the marital pot. (Un)fair enough. But she had said she had no interest in my potential inheritance. So cross that bridge if we come to it, right?

Well, ''right'', right up to two recent events.

(1) Seems that Aston Man (approx 53), who also has a place (or maybe two) in France, has mentioned (presumably jocularly) that he''ll be able to draw his pension in a couple of years and then "I''m f---ing off to France, ho ho". Sort-of-ex, however, with family (not to mention daughter) here, is less keen on "f---ing off to France". Don''t know how serious he was, but it sounds like there''s now a fly in their loved-up ointment. Sort-of-ex might find herself, in a couple of years, having 60K and a low salary to try to accommodate herself and daughter. Yeah yeah, she made her bed etc etc. But it changes things from her point of view. Even manky flats round here (Winchester-ish) start at around 140K.)

(2) She had not mentioned my dad''s situation to her solicitor, till last week when it accidentally came up. And solicitor pounced on it. His advice (filtered through her memory and then mine, so perhaps not legally precise ;-) ) was that she should "stake a claim on it right away". Once the nausea had worn off, the merits of the idea have been growing in her mind.

Now, my dad is adamant that she shouldn''t get another penny of his. He''s already been hugely generous to us over the years (car, conservatory, that kind of thing). (Come to think of it, he also kindly bankrolled what I did for her 40th birthday last July -- London, theatre, dinner at Rules, night at the Savoy.) He''d probably stick it all in trust for granddaughter, or even the proverbial cats'' home, rather than let her have any more.

And in case anyone''s thinking I''d be living it up after he''s gone, on my piddling salary I''ll not actually be able to keep the house -- even before his diagnosis, my calculations predicted I''d have to severely downsize if he made it another five years (but when you''re always being told "well it''s all coming to you eventually", it''s hard not to plan accordingly). Basically, what I''d inherit would fill the sort-of-ex -shaped hole in my finances.

So, what sort of claim could she stake on such a strongly-likely inheritance? My solicitor says she''s no idea, since sort-of-ex signed up to a Clean Break, and any maintenance claim would, in her current circumstances, be laughed out of court (if anything, as the part-time single parent with a house and huge mortgage to maintain, she might end up paying me, heehee).

Solicitor says (iirc), since I''m the Petitioner, I''m in the driving seat time-wise, we can go all the way to Decree Absolute with the finances done somewhat separately; so just sort out buying her out of her stake in the house... and then "we''ll see if she wants to play hardball".

Whatever that might be, which is what I''m asking, I guess!


Cheers, Simon

  • happyagain
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07 Aug 12 #347852 by happyagain
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Simon, I think I agree with your solicitor that you should proceed as agreed and see what your ex does about it.
Unfortunately, I would think that if your inheritance is imminent she would probably be able to claim a greater proportion of the marital home on the grounds that you will be adequately compensated. Fair - no, not at all. It sucks. But that is probably what would happen.
However, you are in the driving seat and you need to drive things forward very quickly based on the current status quo. Which is that her housing needs are met as she lives with bf, and therefore she does not need a larger percentage share. It does not matter what may or may not happen in 3 years time, it is the current situation that counts. You will be the primary carer for your daughter and should use this as your negotiating tool - her outgoings are less than yours yet you are kindly prepared to accept a 50/50 split. Her income is pro-rata, yours is as good as it gets - as the nrp she could easily maximise her income and work full-time. Perhaps if she hesitates you should mention nominal spousal maintenance for yourself?
And finally, I would suggest that your father consider ring-fencing some of his inheritance for your daughter. That way, if she does make a claim it will be of a smaller proportion. ''ve been hit with this double whammy :(
Hope this helps and sorry to hear you

  • TBagpuss
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07 Aug 12 #347858 by TBagpuss
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the inheritance is, at present, uncertain. Your dad could chose to leave his assets elsewhere , he could beat the doctors predictions, he might chose to blow his assets on one last dream holiday / gifts to his family / whatever.

However, where there is a strong probability of one partner receving a substantial asset in the foreseeable future, a court can be asked to delay a final order until it is known whether that asset will be received.

And f cours, if your dad does die before then order is made then you have a definite asset, and it would need to be declared.

In the circumstances, I think a court would be very unlikely to think it was fair ''in all the circumstances'' for any ingheritance to be split equally but t might be part ofthe reason to make other adjustments - e.g. eciding that giving W a bigger sdhare s fair because she earns slightly less, etc.

Your dad could take steps to reduce the risks - I don''t know what other family he has, but he could speak to his solicitor about things such as a trust for the grandchildren, a discretionary trust for you and other beneficiaries etc. With most planning of this kind there are pros and cons - most things which keep the estate safe from your wife also keep it from you, to a greater or lesser extent.

I would however recommend pushing alsong as fast as possible. As things have been amicable up until no, it also may be worth trying to arrange a meetingwith her - she will have had advice as her solicitor would be negligent not to raise the issue, but she may still be able to acknowledge that it is not appropriate or plesant to be trying to snatch your dad''s assets in this way and she can of course instruct her solicitor that she is not goingto make a claim.

i think the issue of what may or may not happen in 3 years is a much bigger red herring. Yes, she may split from her partner. She may also win the lottey or have a big inheritance. She may increase her working hours and therefore her income (and it would be resonable to asses any settlement on the basis that she can, and should, unless she has any medical reasons not to)

  • DarwinsTerrier
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07 Aug 12 #347860 by DarwinsTerrier
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Thanks so much for that, happyagain.

The bit I don''t get is, given that he might decide (on the basis that he''s helped me immensely already) to leave it all to Macmillan and the RSPCA (from whose shelter he got his beloved dog), there could -- however potentially -- be no actual inheritance. Or only a fraction -- of unknown size-- of the estate. So how would or could the extra proportion be decided? Presumably there''s no way of knowing how much an inheritance will be until after it''s been inherited?!

As far as I know, I think he has willed a chunk into trust for his granddaughter already.

  • happyagain
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07 Aug 12 #347870 by happyagain
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Well, as we both mentioned, a court will not order an asset split on probabilities. Your ex may stall matters until nature intervenes and the inheritance will be there for all to see. Or she may not, as she realises it is morally wrong for her to further benefit from your father''s largesse, given her behaviour. If your father''s death is imminent, a court may hold back on making a decision.
These are all possibilities, none of them certain. Your best bet is to press ahead and try to appeal to your ex''s better nature. She may just decide to cut her losses, especially if she is running up large legal bills. At the moment you are in a strong position but that may not last very long.

  • DarwinsTerrier
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08 Aug 12 #348094 by DarwinsTerrier
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Well, we had a brief chat last night. Seems her solicitor has offered her some options:

(1) Do nothing. He strongly urged her to avoid this one.

(2) Try for a bigger chunk of the current settlement. Not an option as far as I''m concerned. The house would definitely have to be sold, for starters. Let her explain that to our daughter (who currently hates her already).

(3) Apply for a court order. Something about, if my Dad dies within a year, she could be awarded "a lot more", "up to around 75K". I''m assuming that''s a ballpark guess, it''d be a quarter of what I assume she thinks his estate is worth. (I like the way it also conveniently forgets that I''m taking on her half of the mortgage etc debt, around 100K, entirely because any inheritance would let me pay it off, not to mention that the 60-ish she''s already getting is coming from that pot.)

As an aside and an example of where she''s ''at'', I''d previously said that, as my Dad has already been so generous to us (ie her), now we''re splitting she''s already had all she might reasonably ''deserve'' from him. Last night she brought it up and had the carefully considered response: "Well on that basis, why should you get any more either?"

I was so floored that I couldn''t think of a decent answer (when someone says something grossly stupid, I do sometimes get stumped, because I tend to assume that they are not actually that thick and therefore the idea can''t be stupid really, so then spend time trying to find the sense in it somehow).

I mean, is it me? Am I being illogical here? Is "because he''s my f---ing father not yours!" too obscure a point to make (or for her to think of for herself)?

Ignoring who ''should'' inherit, there''s the little matter of to whom he wants to leave it. Which is me, not her.

Please, seriously, tell me: is it me whose moral and intellectual compass has started pointing south?

Anyway. Her prime concern is still with ensuring she can compile a deposit (enough plus a gettable mortgage) for somewhere if/when she finds herself single again. She''s been sensible enough not to play the ''needed for daughter too'' card more than by allusion. To that end, she has a figure in mind. 30K.

Now, the reason I mentioned the ''aside'' above is that, if it hadn''t been for that, I''d be more on her side. If for no other reason than for the sake of my daughter, without leaving myself in trouble I''d be more than willing to see that she''s alright, if it did come to that. Told her that when she first brought it up: "[if that happens,] I''ll look out for you". But she wants the money up front.

Given that my Dad is funding my half (the only half doing any paying) of the divorce anyway, what she''s saying to him is in effect: "Give me more now, or I''ll get it from you after you''re dead."

Which elicits a rather different response from me than she might otherwise get. Involving sex, travel and becoming not just my ex but ex in the Monty Python sense.

Now what?

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08 Aug 12 #348099 by Action
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I know from bitter experience not to count on possible inheritances after my late father was persuaded by his wealthy girlfriend to change his Will in her favour, less than two weeks before his death from cancer. As such, my personal view is that any potential inheritance shouldn''t be taken into account, especially not as your ex is planning for her own ''what if?'' scenario. I don''t know how it would go in court though, but the whole thing stinks and I don''t understand how anyone can be so sick.

My parents are both dead but my ex husband''s parents are both alive. His possible future inheritance didn''t come into our negotiations at all, although they are not terminally ill like your own Father.

I just don''t know how people like your wife and my ex sleep at night.

I am oh so familiar with the ''gobsmacked'' reaction to ridiculous statements and am getting to the place that I can start to laugh at them. Just try and accept that she is in that selfish la la land and the words honesty and integrity just don''t exist.

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