RE: Inheritance Left in a Will, & Associated ‘Joint Account’ Holders
Please accept my apologies if this is the wrong place to post this kind of question.
Basically, my step granddad sadly passed away last month. He married my Nan 18 years ago, and when they married they BOTH wrote new wills stating that whoever died first, their assets (property and cash) would be split 50%/50% between each of their two children, i.e. his money would go to his two children, and her money would go to her two children. The only clause being that the house that they jointly owned would remain as it is and could not be sold until both of them passed away, and then it would be sold and split four ways. They decided to do this because they were both in their 70’s when they married, thus they didn’t want their money being split unfairly to either side of the new family just because they were married. Neither of them left any money to the other one in the event of a death.
When they wrote their wills neither of them expected to live for as long as they have. They both had in their minds that they would have 5 – 7 years together, but they went on to be married for 18 years before my step granddad sadly passed away. They were brilliant together and thought the world of each other. Hopefully that’s given an overview of the situation.
A year ago, my step granddad was worried that my Nan wouldn’t have enough money to pay the bills should anything happen to him (as he’d been ill), so he set up a joint account (with both his and my Nan’s name on the ‘joint account’) so that if anything happened to him Nan would have some money to help her out. He also gave her ‘Power of Attorney’ on the account, so that if he was incapacitated or lost his mind, the account couldn’t be frozen and she would still have access to the money.
When he sadly passed away, the money in this account instantly became Nan’s under the law in England named ‘The Last Survivor’, which clearly states that on the death of a joint account holder, the account is transferred to the sole name of the remaining account holder, and that money no longer forms part of the deceased’s estate. The above is exactly what happened – all of my step granddads accounts were frozen pending probate, and the joint account became Nan’s to which she can gain instance access to. This has been confirmed by the bank and ties up with the ‘Last Survivor’ law described above.
Now the problem.... my step granddads children are fuming about it and said that it is their money, and they are trying to force my Nan to sign it over. They have said that under probate the money is theirs because there is a form called ‘Notes to help you fill in form IHT205(2006)’, which within a section called ‘Valuing Joint Bank Accounts’ states:
“Valuing the deceased's share of a bank account is quite easy, as the example before shows. But sometimes an account may be held in joint names just for convenience. For example, if an elderly person can no longer get out, they may add a son or daughter’s name to their bank account so the son or daughter can operate the account for them.
If an account is in joint names for convenience and the deceased provided all the money in the account, you should treat the account as if it was in the deceased’s sole name. Include the full balance of the account in box 14.3 (for joint assets) or 13.1 (if the account was held as tenants-in-common). But the opposite also applies, and if the deceased did not provide any of the money in the account then, so long as the provider did not intend to make a gift, there is no need to include anything about the joint account on form IHT205(2006).”
As my step granddad provided ALL of the money in the account, his children are saying that it has to go on the probate form (which is correct, as stated above), but because it is stated on the probate form, they are claiming that it must therefore be part of his estate, and that his estate was left 50/50 to his children, thus the money is no longer Nan’s.
Is this correct? I can’t see how it can be? Also, what determines whether a joint account is one of ‘convenience’, because the example given above is of a son or daughter being a ‘joint account holder’ for their elderly mum or dad, who is unable to get to a bank easily, but they were both married and could both get to the bank?
My point being is that my step granddad specifically set the account up for the very reason that he wanted my Nan to have the money. The money in question isn’t a massive amount, and equates to a very small % of the overall estate (less than 10% of the estate overall), and his two children are getting the other 90% of it split between them, no questions.
I don’t think they have a right to the money in the joint account. My step granddad would have wanted my Nan to have it, and they are saying because of this probate form, it is legally theirs. They are being awkward and causing unnecessary aggravation, and are saying that if the money isn’t given back to them straight away they are going to contest it all, which is stress and hassle Nan doesn’t need. She would rather give the money to them than them cause trouble through the courts.
My question is ultimately, do they have a case or is it Nan’s money?
Please accept my apologies for such a long post, but it was very important to make ALL the facts known up front to receive an accurate response. I know we need to make an appointment with a Solicitor to get a definitive answer, but unfortunately I am over 250 miles away and can’t get there until the end of the week and was hoping for an ‘indicative’ response only, to help obtain a clearer understanding.
Thanks in advance to anyone who can help!