Firstly, sorry for the saga post, there's a fair amount of information but hopefully it'll help set the context!
My partner is going through a divorce and they are in the process of resolving the finances. The separation happened 2.5 years ago and so far the whole process has been acrimonious and the STBX is incredibly bitter and nasty about the whole thing, she took the finances to court before even trying to discuss amicable. My partner was represented but had to revert to LIP ahead of the FDA due to the rising costs. STBX is represented through legal aid due to lies she's told. The FDR was in May and was unsuccessful and the FH is listed for November.
It is a needs-based financial settlement with 2 children residing with the STBX. At the FDR, the judge ordered a pension report to be produced but also told the STBX's legal team to get together accurate information including mortgage raising capacity and property particulars which were absent ahead of the hearing as it would be impossible to determine the needs when STBX refuses to share information. Both parties were instructed to attempt negotiation ahead of the FH in November, the pension report was received with offsetting calculations and despite no further information coming from STBX, my partner was ready to send his next offer.
Sadly my partner's mother died unexpectedly about three weeks ago. Whilst she was ill, no one was anticipating her imminent passing and this has resulted in yet more stress and paperwork for my partner. Of course the STBX has heard this and he has now received two letters from her solicitors asking him for a copy of the front page of the will and the value of the estate with documentary evidence.
Forgetting the fact this is callous in the extreme given how upset he is and how difficult he's finding everything; that is not relevant to the financial resolution I know, more importantly, currently they cannot find their mother's will and have no estimate of the value of the estate. It is sizeable (over £1m) and will definitely require probate, for which the first step is valuing the estate but this will take some time. In response to the first letter asking for information, my partner (LIP) responded to say he would be asking the courts to consider any inheritance as a non-matrimonial asset as it was received 2.5 years after the breakdown of the marriage and believes the needs can be met from the matrimonial assets (FMH and large pension). In the second letter received, STBX's solicitors have stated that he cannot decide it's not a matrimonial asset, that is for the courts (he knows this and it is what he wrote in his first reply), and that if he doesn't share the details of the estate and evidence, they will apply for a court order and charge him for the cost of this.
My question is can they do this? And if so, how can he provide information he does not have? It's not about hiding things but given the complexity of the estate and potentially the lack of will, the actual amount of inheritance coming his way may well not be established for 12-18 months. what can we do before the final hearing to ensure this is still resolved as I'm not sure he will cope with another year of this if it's delayed until probate is through.
I have told him he should ask for legal advice on this issue but again he is concerned about spiralling costs when he's already in a lot of debt, in large part due to the legal expenses incurred so far. Any help at all would be very gratefully received
He should just respond honestly. If no will can be found the estate will be dealt with under the laws of intestacy.
There will be inheritance tax to pay.
Whilst it is not unreasonable for them to ask about any inheritance, a degree of sensitivity would be nice.
Inheritance needs to be declared but is not automatically part of the pot for division. If there isn't enough in the pot to meet the needs of both parties it would be seen as an asset he could use to meet needs. This could be a reason for an unequal division of house equity for example.
Thank you for that, and I will tell him to be honest in his response. As a result of the inheritance he will not be seeking any share of the equity in the house and will still be providing the STBX with a share of his pension, I think he's just worried she will see the money from the inheritance as being up for 50:50 share as well as it's now been introduced into the matrimonial pot. Now it suits her, she'll believe things should be split "equitably"!