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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: UK Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33281
Experience:  25 years experience of all aspects of family law
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I am an American national male who was married in England to

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I am an American national male who was married in England to a UK national who died in 2000 of liver cancer. We were married 10 years and both lived and worked in the UK for 10 years and invested in two properties which I renovated and sold. Her parents took me to court over custody our two children after my wife died. My children at the time were three and five years old. This went to the High Court as I wanted to return home with them and live with my sister who has a family of six. I lost custody on the basis of my alcoholism after agreeing to take blood tests for the court. Within a year of her death I developed serious health problems including schizoaffective disorder and chronic fatigue but could not claim Incapacity Benefit in the UK because I was not a UK national. I had no option but to return to the US and claim Disability in California. I have been unable to work for the past 10 years. I stopped drinking completely over three years ago but often have little energy or motivation because of my mental and physical disabilities. I have no criminal record anywhere except one driving offence in the UK for driving under the influence. My health has been slowly improving, but I have many medical issues which California State Disability will not pay for. I have tried to maintain contact with my children several times a year and in-laws but have had little response. Neither my wife nor I ever filed for divorce, yet she left her entire Estate (including money we made on the property we owned jointly) in a trust fund for our children which I was told by my solicitor in London was worth in excess of £100,000 in January 2000 and they would receive when they turned 18. I didn’t anticipate my health seriously affecting my earning potential so I did not take legal action against this at the time. I have not re-married. The one child turned 18 this year and supposedly received some of this money. I live with my mother who is aged 89 years. She has a very small retirement pension. I have no savings or investments in the UK or US. I receive $866.40 per month, and have been paying my mother $500 per month to rent one room with utilities since 2004. I have no other help or expected inheritance from my family or friends. I love my children and don’t want to be unkind, but am running out of options and cannot live so frugally with no financial security for the future. I do not need a liver transplant. I don’t have cancer, HIV or diabetes. I take the best possible care of myself in terms of nutrition and exercise, but have suffered for 10 years from liver cirrhosis, psychosis, sleep apnea, arthritis, a blood disorder, stomach problems, chronic fatigue, dermatitis and have grown breast tissue which needs removal and need thousands of dollars of dental work. I am running out of options.
Hi
Thank you for your question
I shall do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
I wanted to check - are you asking if you can still challenge your late wife's Will?
Claire
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


It was my understanding that she had not made a Will.

Hi
So she set up a Trust Deed prior to her death?
Claire
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


I have no legal knowledge or financial wherewithal. I am currently claiming SSI and cannot afford more than $23 for assistance. My wife left me to live with her parents in 1999 following problems in our relationship due to my psychosis and alcoholism and within the subsequent months she developed, as I was told after her death, a pain in her abdomen and was diagnosed with liver cancer, died and was buried all within less than a year after our separation without my knowledge - despite our regular contact. Her condition was kept a big secret from me and my family for many months. I was only phoned and invited to visit my wife’s family days after her death, at which time they revealed their intentions to take me to court over custody of the children. Within four years I was confined to a psychiatric hospital in London for three days and spent two weeks in hospital in London due to esophageal varices. I think there has been a gross miscarriage of justice in terms of the UK High Court decision and I question both our medical diagnostics, treatment and prognostics.

Hi
Whose name were the properties purchased in?
Claire
Customer: replied 3 years ago.



After I had successfully sold the property, and before she became ill, we had a verbal agreement only for the sale of the property. Legal action was never taken until after her death. I agreed to give her a fair proportionate amount based on her, her family and our children. After she died I made written enquires to her doctor as to the circumstances surrounding her death, but was refused information even though she was my wife. I made verbal enquires to my solicitor regarding her Will, but was told she had not left a Will and nothing in writing was ever produced. I made many enquires but was only specifically told by her mother that an autopsy was not performed. I was given the feeling that I was to blame for her death but no medical information was obtainable.

Hi
So the houses were sold prior to the divorce?
Claire
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

My wife and I never got a divorce. The property (there was only one when she died) was in both our names. It was sold prior to her death. When she became ill and realized she might die, she had my sign a letter saying I give her the Endowment Policy after the property had been sold. This was not done in the presence of a solicitor.

Hi
Ok
So all the money from the property was at some point in an account in her sole name?
Claire
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I believe so, but I'm not sure. The property was in both our names. What I would like to find out is exactly what happened to my late wife’s Estate which included everything we owned like her jewelry, our car and furniture, antiques, etc . - whether the children in fact inherited all this (or the proceeds from their sale), or whether the Grandparent’s were left in control if it. The one child has not yet turned 18. I would also like to investigate the circumstances surrounding my late wife’s illness and death, but that is another issue. I was told by my solicitor at the time, that I would have received my late wife’s Estate in its entirety if I was successful in receiving custody.

Hi
You had a solicitor acting for you at the time?
Claire
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

My wife and children were living with my wife's grandparents at the time of their death. I was in regular contact with all of them but they kept my wife's illness and death a secret. When I told them of my intentions of taking my children to the US, they took me to court so I got a solicitor. The trial lasted many months. I can give you further specific information if you require. I would need a secure way of sending it. It may be best for me to contact my solicitor directly, but I was on Legal Aid at the time and I'm not sure that I got very good representation.

Hi
Your starting point is to write to your solicitor and ask for the file - it should still be available
This may well give you the information that you need.
You should also contact the Probate Registry and see if Letters Of Administration were ever granted for your late wife's estate
http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/probate/copies-of-grants-wills
This would be interesting as under the Intestacy Laws you should have received part of the estate - which makes me think that there may in fact have been a Will
I hope that this helps - please feel free to ask for further details
Claire
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