My brother stole our late mother’s will. Is it a crime? | Life and style


Our mother died this summer. She filed her will with a notary, having appointed one of my two siblings as executor, and shared his property equally between the three of us. However, the another brother stole the original copy of the lawyer’s will by falsely claiming the executor had ordered them to do so. They now refuse to come back this.

A few years ago our parents gave a loan of several thousand pounds to the brother or sister who is the executor and I suspect my other brother holds the will hostage until there is evidence that either the loan has been repaid or the role of executor has been abandoned. Has a criminal offense been committed? How do we get our hands on the will so that we can settle our mother’s debts and share the money?

My condolences for your mother; there is no time at all since his death and the loss has yet to be believed. I suspect your father is also dead because you didn’t mention him. And I also imagine you live in England or Wales – the laws may be different elsewhere.

Such conflicts of will are unfortunately not uncommon. I’ve read a lot of it over the years, and sometimes it seems like the money left behind becomes a substitute for the unreceived love in life.

I consulted with Rod Smith, co-chair of the Law Society’s Wills and Fairness Committee. His first thought was that the notary who renounced the will, without proof that the executor had authorized it, or verification of the identity of the person who took it in, was negligent. A will is an important legal document and must be given to the named executor.

It is not clear whether your brother or sister committed a crime by obtaining the will. It depends on the intention: if it was to prevent someone from inheriting, it was probably a crime under the Fraud Act 2006.

But it is not very useful, at this stage, to focus on whether a criminal offense has been committed.

Smith suggested that you write to the lawyer first to tell them that the will had been given to the wrong person and to ask what steps were taken to ensure that they were acting according to the executor’s wishes. You may also want to advise the lawyer that they will be reimbursed for all costs associated with rectifying this error.

If your brother, the one with the will, doesn’t respond to polite requests to return it, you can ask him one last time and explain that if he doesn’t, you and your other brother will ask a lawyer to deliver. a subpoena. for his return. If it is not returned, criminal proceedings can be initiated. This is not ideal, as I am not sure what it will do to your relationships, but it can be your last resort.

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A signed copy of the will can be obtained from the lawyer by the executor to prove that he is the executor, complete the issuance of the summons and know their legal status, but it is not a document. legal in itself.

Ultimately, the sibling who holds the will hostage must realize that this is no use. They cannot act because they are not the executor. It’s amazing how immature adults can be when money is on the table.

But I wonder if something else is being played here. It would have been helpful if your parents had put something in writing about how they expected the loan to be paid off, if at all. It is important that people make their wishes clear to avoid disputes, not only by making a will, but by keeping a record of loans to one child and not the other.

Is there another family member, someone you all respect, who could mediate between you all? Wouldn’t it be tragic if you all argued about this when it seemed like there were some very raw and childish feelings that needed to be listened to?

Each week, Annalisa Barbieri discusses a family problem sent by a reader. If you would like advice from Annalisa on a family matter, please send your issue to [email protected] Annalisa regrets not being able to enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions. Comments on this article are pre-moderated to ensure that the discussion stays on the topics raised by the article. Please note that there may be a short delay in comments appearing on the site.


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