Brothers involved in dispute over their late mother’s estate

A recent story from England outlines some of the difficulties siblings may encounter with respect to their parents’ estates. The story is about an estate dispute between three brothers, Dominic, Jeremy, and Timothy Heath.

According to the story, Dominic, 53, and Jeremy, 65, are leading doctors in their fields. They have amassed wealth and properties and have very successful careers. Timothy, 62, never left their mother’s home. He describes himself as self-employed and creative. Timothy also studied math and he is a qualified barrister. Nonetheless, he has never been employed.

Their mother, Rachel Heath, died in 2015. She left a will splitting her estate equally between the three brothers. The estate is estimated to be worth approximately £1.8 million.

Timothy attempted to claim a larger share of Rachel’s estate for himself. His position is that he entitled to more because he cared for his mother in her final years as she struggled with dementia. He acted as a live-in caregiver for the last eight years of Rachel’s life. Timothy did not ask to be paid, but claimed his brothers rarely visited and wanted to send Rachel to a secure mental unit.

Dominic and Jeremy claimed that Timothy exaggerating his involvement because two full-time caregivers were hired to care for Rachel. The caregivers were each paid £45,000 per year. Dominic claimed that Timothy was depriving Dominic’s children of the contents of Rachel’s will.

Judge ordered Timothy to be replaced as executor

Justice Carr found that Timothy had been acting as one of Rachel’s caregivers. He also found that Timothy had not acted improperly. Nonetheless, he removed Timothy as an executor to be replaced by an independent lawyer. Dominic and Jeremy were ordered to pay their own costs of £25,000 for initiating the application before the Court.

The article does not specify if Timothy paid rent to his mother. It is also silent on what kind of compensation Timothy may have been entitled to receive as an executor.

This dispute likely could have been avoided if Rachel’s will provided for compensation for the services Timothy rendered. Alternatively, Timothy could have been paid a salary or an allowance by Rachel. Nonetheless, other siblings in a similar situation may be opposed to a live-in sibling requiring payment for the care he or she provides. This is especially true if the sibling acting as a caregiver does not pay rent or any other household expenses.

The story was silent on whether or not Timothy was entitled to a greater share of Rachel’s estate. The dispute between the Heath brothers makes it clear that careful estate planning is required if a sibling takes on the role of a live-in caregiver.