Luke specialises in contentious trust and probate disputes and gave valuable advice to a reader whose siblings are offering substantially less than the value of an inheritance.
Luke explained the legal position as well as signposting where further help could be sought.
“In this situation you and your siblings should all receive an equal share of your father's estate,” said Luke.
“Where someone dies leaving a property which is to be shared between more than one sibling, the property will normally be sold with the net proceeds of sale being divided equally (after payment of any tax and the costs of sale such as legal and estate agent's fees).
“It is possible for one or more sibling's share to be bought out but this would normally be an equal share of the total value rather than the reduced sum which has been offered to you.
“If your siblings cannot afford to buy you out then the property should be sold.”
“Where someone dies without leaving a will an administrator will normally be appointed to distribute the estate, and this is usually a close relative,” said Luke.
“If there is a dispute between siblings then legal advice should be obtained because, unfortunately, it may be necessary to apply to court to force a sale and/or apply for the administrator to be changed.
“Any court application would normally proceed in the Chancery Division of the High Court. The current administrator could be one of your siblings which means that a court could decide to appoint an independent administrator such as a solicitor because of the family dispute.
“I am not sure why your siblings have made a lower offer to you but, in any event, you are all entitled to an equal one third share under the intestacy rules.
“The 18-month delay seems arbitrary and there is no obligation on you to accept it.
“It would be a good idea to seek independent legal advice from a solicitor without delay.
“It may be possible to find a solicitor who will agree to the legal costs being paid out of your eventual inheritance rather than upfront although this will vary from firm to firm depending on the individual circumstances of each case.”