Daughters shattered after will change

A mother has quietly changed her will to leave the family home to a son and exclude two daughters. Can estate planning lawyer Rod Cunich help the daughters?

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Q. Finn*

I am asking this question on behalf of my wife and sister-in-law .

We recently found out that my wife’s mother has signed her property over to one of my wife’s brothers. We found this out by complete accident and had absolutely no idea that this had happened. Both my wife and sister-in-law have contact with their mother and are very upset to have discovered this. The relationship with their brother is non-existent due to past incidents. The brother is divorced and has lived with his mother for a few years .

My wife’s mother and brother are not aware they have found out this information. Any advice would be appreciated.

A. There is no quick fix to this problem. Typically, this type of problem only arises once a person passes away and the facts are discovered.

Unless agreement can be reached between the parties, the only solution is to litigate the matter through the courts. Such claims are often based on assertions of ‘undue influence’ and/or trust law and other complex legal arguments.

I strongly recommend that your wife and sister-in-law immediately seek specialist advice as this situation requires an expert to review all the facts to advise what their immediate and post death options might be.

The only things I can say is that doing nothing is not an option, and the issues once raised will damage relationships.

* Not his real name.

Rod Cunich is a lawyer and author with more than 30 years’ experience who specialises in estate planning. If you have a question for Rod, simply email it to [email protected]. His book, Understanding Wills and Estate Planning, has recently been updated and is available from all good bookshops.

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