Category Archives: Your Probate Questions

We answer generic probate questions

Being Fair to Step Children

Being Fair to Step Children

Being Fair to Step Children is a problem our Estate Planning Department wrestles with most days, trying to help clients be as fair as possible when creating Estate Plans including Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney as well as Trusts and Inheritance Tax Planning. In a lot of cases, the children of the first person to die inherit nothing, as the survivor remarries and leaves everything to their new spouse.  Legal Planning is an ongoing process, facilitated by being a member of the Peace of Mind Service.

But back to the question: Being Fair to Step Children

Question: My wife died intestate earlier this year.

We jointly owned the property with both names being on the title deeds.  I am being pressurised by my step-sons to alter the title deeds of the house via a deed of variation to reflect that my 2 step-sons will inherit their fathers share of my house upon my death.

I have included this instruction in my will but this appears not to be satisfactory.  My wife’s estate was worth less than £250,000 and I have therefore inherited everything.  I am not happy about altering the title deeds of my house-I am in poor health and I need security for the remainder of my life.

Can you tell me what my rights are please?  My own solicitor seems out of her depth with this issue.

How to be Fair to Step Children – reply.

It is not you who are short of rights, but the other side who have none.

None at all, unless your wife was still supporting the sons, in which case they may well have a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975.

If you do what they say, you will create an unnecessary tax bill for the daughters and be beholden to them for the rest of you life, and subject to their divorces or other financial issues potentially making you homeless. However, it is reasonable to argue that some provision ought to be made for step children – it often is not and gives rise to massive amounts of bitterness.

But in this particular case, there is a solution which protects your interests and theirs pretty much 100%, apart from a couple of issues which may or may not be of concern to you. It is better for everyone, especially you. And the sons will not be creating an unnecessary tax bill.

Give me a ring and I will go through the issues with you.
The cost is significantly more than a Deed of Variation, but (on the face of it) a simple
Deed of Variation would seem to be bad for everyone!

Stop worrying! It is possible to be fair to step children without creating problems.

Best wishes,


Obtaining Probate from Overseas

Obtaining Probate from Overseas.

Obtaining probate from abroad for assets held in England or Wales  is usually tolerably straightforward, though more complex than normal probate.  Real problems do arise when those involved are based in North America as UK Probate Insurance companies charge ludicrous premiums for covering anyone based or from there!  The rest of the world is usually not a problem however:

Obtaining probate from overseas is Pedro’s problem.

“My uncle died in 2010. He got a few assets in London. But no will.
I need to apply for  a Letters of Administration.
I got British passport, but I am living on Gran Canaria.
My question is: would it be possible to go the interview to swear the oath at British Embassy in Gran Canaria?”


Obtaining Probate from Overseas need not be too hard

I have just confirmed with the official Probate Registry (in case you missed the massive disclaimed, we are a private probate company!) that they can send you the necessary papers and you can swear the oath in front of a notary or at the British Embassy.  This is a link to the embassy for  obtaining probate from overseas, in this case the British Embassy in Gran Canaria.  Local Embassies can usually point you in the right direction.

In your case you wishes to obtain probate from overseas via the Brighton Probate Registry, I assume as the death or the property is in that area.  Any probate registry can deal with probate applications form overseas.  If the person died in the UK, it is better to contact the Probate Registry covering they are they died in.  All Probate Registries in England and Wales are listed under “Registries” on the menu above.   Just follow the drop down menu and look for the nearest point of contact.   If you contact the wrong one it is not an issue, they will either help or give you the correct contact details.  But don’t send anything back until you have been in touch as sending it to the wrong Probate Registry could cause a modest delay.

If it gets too much come back to us and (for a fee!) we’ll help out!

If you have any questions on obtaining probate from overseas  which are of general interest, use our contact page to ask them.   We cannot answer detailed questions free, only ones of general interest.

Pensions Death in Service Benefits – can they be disputed?

Probate Question: Death in Service Benefits from Pensions.

Q: My sister was living with her partner for four years.  Last year my sister appointed him as Next Of Kin on paperwork connected with her work death in service benefits. Now my sister has died, and her pension death in service benefit is going to be paid to her so called next of kin. I must say that my sister and I had to pay for the funeral of my late sister with no financial help from her partner.

Please can you tell me if we can contest his Next Of Kin ?

Many thanks

A: Pension Death in Service Benefits

I imagine this is to do with the Pension Death in Service Benefit from her employer. What happens is that the firm offer an employee the option to nominate who should receive such benefits if they die in service, and your sister must have done so, which means that the Trustees of the scheme are most likely to do what she requested, though they are not bound to do so and may sympathetically entertain a request to deduct the funeral expenses, provided they get that before they have paid out.

In this case, the payment of the benefit is usually at the discretion of the trustees of the scheme, who will generally follow the wishes of the deceased.

But that doesn’t stop you raising your concerns with them – but you would need to do so urgently.

You don’t say whether her left a Will? Normally that would contain a clause which made sure the funeral was paid for from his estate.

If there was no Will, then an unmarried partner would get nothing apart from joint property automatically.  The rest would go to spouse (if any), then children (if any) then parents (if any) then siblings. For more details of the Rules of Intestacy, just click on the link above which will take you too a Government site which explains how the Rules operate.

Hope that helps.


Stephen Pett Contact The Probate Department Ltd

Pensions Death in Service Benefits