Carer son wants his sacrifice acknowledged and reflected in his share of estate
The financial, legal and emotional issues surrounding caring for an elderly relative at home have recently come to light in a case at London’s High Court.
Timothy Heath is demanding a larger share of his late mother’s estate than his two siblings due to that fact that he was his mother’s unpaid carer for 8 years. His argument is based on the fact that his two brothers, (both medical doctors), pursued their careers and took none of the burden of caring for their elderly mother in the latter years of her life.
The mother, Rachel Heath, died in October 2015 aged 93. In her Will, she left her estate equally amongst her three sons and appointed all three as Executors.
Timothy Heath, continues to live in the family home that he formerly shared with his parents, who are both now deceased. His brothers argue that he should leave the parental home so the estate can be distributed in line with the Will. He counter-argues that he does not own a home or have a pension, whilst his brothers are both wealthy.
Presiding over the case, Mr Justice Carr drew attention to a conflict of interest between Timothy Heath’s position as both a beneficiary of the Will and an Executor ordered him to resign as an Executor and to be replaced by an independent solicitor. He also warned that the other two brothers may also have to resign in due course if any conflicts arise in relation to their positions as both beneficiary and Executor.
The case highlights the importance of regularly reviewing your Will to ensure that it takes into account all of your own and your family’s circumstances. Whilst some may disagree with the content of the Will and deem it unfair, Mrs Heath may well have wished for her 3 sons to share equally in her estate, despite one of them caring for her. If she did want his caring for her to be taken into account, her Will should have been updated to reflect this.
The case also brings to the fore the issue of appointing your beneficiaries as your Executors, due to the conflicts of interest that could easily arise. Cases such as this show how a better course of action might be to have appointed a third party to act as Executor to her Will, to ensure the directions therein were carried out without any conflict of interest arising.
Thompsons specialist Private Client team deal with the preparation of Wills and the management of Executry estates. Our lawyers will provide detailed and individually tailored advice to suit your specific circumstances, Talk to Thompsons today.
Blog by Shona Macnaughton, Solicitor