The first feeling I got when I was told Dad had died was relief. The last letter he had from Piers had said it contained the information Dad had asked Piers for, it was the contact details for Dignitas. Even had we been able to take him to Switzerland, Christine had cleaned him out, there wasnt enough cash left to pay for such a trip.
My sister and I hadnt spoken for over a month. I had been seeing him everyday for so long as I live closer to the hospital, and I dont work. She was working full time, so had asked me to keep her updated about eeverything i had and this soon annoyed her so much she told me not to contact her anymore! I couldnt win.
My sister Alex then aligned with Christine to arrange Dads funeral. I asked to choose a hymn, I was told it was already arranged. i asked that John be able to fulfil his promise to Dad and pipe at his funeral, I was told no. We did it anyway, out on the grass. Dad loved the highland pipes and the piper does add dignity to an occasion. I had my hair done in the morning and popped the Valium my GP had given me to help me through it. I wanted to scream out to everyone what Christine had done. Instead I hardly spoke except to quietly thank people for coming. I sat with John and some of Dads friends who also dont like Christine, including the man who had warned Dad that she was a gold-digger all those years ago.
Dads final legal battle was about to start.
I was summoned to meet the executors, I had met them before. There were meant to be four of them: two legal people, my eldest nephew Chris, and Sandra my cousin. Sandra had already resigned, I was never told why. my nephew was abroad travelling by this time, he had his 15K and wanted to make the most of it, he is a good age to travel. So it was just the legals, Geraldine and Duncan. I just couldnt face it. i was in their bad books from about three years ago when I threatened to report them to the Law Society unless they did something to protect my father. I had been able to see what was coming, it was like being Cassandra of Greek mythology.
John went and recorded the meeting for me. It was fairly straightforward, basically we need to wait for probate. I got a copy of Dads will, it directly excluded Christine, other than that it named cash amounts for all three grand sons, and the trust fund for my sister and I, which included the house Christine was still living in, rent free.
In January this year I met them and handed over all the evidence I have on Christine’s misappropriation of Dads money, and pointed out the cheque for 20K that i believe should have come to me, and all the other amounts and urged the executors to investigate it. They did. Christine admitted that she took 10K for “emergencies” and admitted that she had not had permission to take it, she implied that she would repay it. Probate dragged on and on but was finally granted two weeks ago.
I had a meeting with Duncan last week and his first sentence said “we have come to believe that that cheque for 20K was intended by your Dad for you and that Christine filled her name onto it instead”. What a relief. And the rest. I want her prosecuted, people go to jail for less.
But the solicitor mainly wants her out of the house and thinks a prosecution might be difficult, it might make her contest the will. So I gave in and said OK, give her a chance to return the money and get out of the house.
Duncan sent her a letter:
I am writing further to your email of 4th December 2014. I have now taken instructions from my fellow executors and each of Samantha and Alex. There are a number of issues that we need to resolve. I hope that we can do so amicably. I am writing to you because I am not sure that you still retain Sheridan Ball as you are Solicitor. Either way, I would respectfully suggest that once you have read and considered the contents of this letter, you do not reply to me immediately but instead you seek legal advice. Whether we correspond after that point or I correspond with your chosen Solicitor, is entirely up to. I would only ask that you deal with the matter with some urgency.
The issues are as follows:
- Misappropriation of funds.
Whilst we have been waiting for the grant of probate, I have been investigating the significant reduction in Hugh’s bank account and cash position in the months leading up to his hospitalisation and death. Specifically, I have looked at the following:
- In the months leading up to Hugh’s hospitalisation the bank statements show a substantial number of ATM withdrawals, amounting to several thousand pounds. These withdrawals were being made at a time when Hugh did not operate the bank card and when Hugh’s personal expenditure (although not necessarily his outgoings) would have been minimal because of the state of his health. We have no record of what this money was spent on or indeed, whether it was spent. I would therefore be grateful if you would give me a complete account of the cash expenditure from say 1st March 2013 to 31st July 2013.
- I have been told that Hugh owned a safe and that he habitually kept cash in the safe amounting to some thousands of pounds. This is borne out by Hugh’s pattern of ATM withdrawals going back a number of years compared to what I believe was his expenditure during that time. This view is supported by eye witness accounts. I would therefore be grateful if you could confirm to me the current amount of cash held in the safe at the house in Market Weighton or elsewhere on behalf of the estate. I would also be grateful if you would give me an account of any money you have taken from that safe or any other safe belonging to Hugh or other storage place, from 1st March 2013 onwards.
- On the 8th July 2013, you made a direct bank transfer from Hugh’s account with Nat West to your own account in the sum of ten thousand pounds. When questioned you admitted that you were not authorised to take that sum of money but you had explained that you had taken it for “repairs and emergencies”. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to judge whether Hugh would have given you that money had you asked him and explained to him what you needed it for and had he capacity to agree to give you that money. I know that you did not ask him and did not get his consent to take that money, nor were you implicitly authorised to take that money. I understand that you were in fact estranged (whether temporary or otherwise) from Hugh at that time, so that it seems likely that he would not have given you the money when you took it. Nor am I concerned as to whether you actually used that money for repairs and emergencies. I would therefore, ask that you repay this sum of money forthwith.
- On or about the 4th or 5th June 2013 you wrote three cheques on behalf of Hugh, which Hugh had signed: one for £20,000 payable to Alex White, one in the sum of £15,000 payable to Christopher White and one for £20,000 made payable to you. For some reason, which I am unable to ascertain these cheques were post-dated the 7th June 2013. Two weeks later you received, incidentally, a further cheque in the sum of £5,000, which you say Hugh told you was for investment. In each case, Hugh signed those cheques and you wrote out the details, including the recipient. In relation to the cheque payable to yourself for £20,000, after enquiry I have significant reason to believe that Hugh intended that cheque to be made payable to Samantha White. Knowing that to be the case, I believe that you inserted your name onto the cheque instead of Samantha’s, once it had been signed by Hugh.
The executors have debated the appropriate course of action in relation to each of these matters but in particular to the misappropriation of the cheque due to Samantha. At the moment our desire is only to see the return of those funds to the estate but we are in little doubt that you took money that did not belong to you without proper justification. We would, therefore, demand that you repay to the estate the sum of £20,000 forthwith.
- The House at Market Weighton
We have also debated as executors your continued occupation of 7 The Orchards, Beverley Road, Market Weighton. Unfortunately, as you are not a beneficiary of Hugh’s estate we do not feel that we can permit you to remain in occupation of the property rent free. I appreciate that you may consider that it was Hugh’s wish that you remain in the property but Hugh did not execute the codicil that you wished him to execute that would have allowed you to stay in the house. This was because Hugh did not have the mental capacity to execute the desired codicil but that is not the only reason. As you know, I spent a lot of time with Hugh considering what would be appropriate provision for you in relation to his estate. Hugh was always clear in his instructions to me (during which time I had no doubt about his mental capacity) that proper provision for you was that you would get the pension, which is substantial, with the balance of his estate (including the house) going into trust for his children and grandchildren.
It seems to me that you therefore have two choices: firstly, to vacate the property as soon as possible or secondly to enter into an assured short-hold tenancy agreement, paying a market rent for a relevant furnished property in Market Weighton. The executors may be prepared to see either happen as there has been some talk about not selling the house and retaining it for investment. The executor’s position is dependant on resolving all matters referred to above. However, once decided the appropriate steps must be taken quickly. If not then we will look to take steps to obtain possession.
Because you have not been in permitted occupation of the property since Hugh’s death, in theory we are entitled to claim rent from you for the period of your occupation. However, if you vacate (or we agree to an assured short-hold tenancy) reasonably quickly, we will not seek rent from you. Should you refuse to leave the house or take up a tenancy (if offered), and we are obliged to seek possession, it would seem appropriate to seek rent at that time.
We understand that the house at Market Weighton contains a large number of chattels belonging to Hugh’s estate. We will need to secure those chattels and come to some arrangement for their removal from the house. Of immediate concern is the need to retrieve a painting of boats in Albufeira, which is a specific bequest under Hugh’s will and I would like to arrange for someone to collect that painting as soon as possible.
I appreciate that you may consider the contents of this letter to be harsh but we have duties to discharge as executors and we must discharge those duties fully and properly. I should therefore repeat my advice to you to obtain legal advice as soon as possible and thereafter revert to me without delay. I do not intend to take any action before the end of the year, which will hopefully give you sufficient time to take advice and get your arrangements in order.
I look forward to hearing from you.
She didnt take legal advice, she immediatley relied with a email rant about how dreadful I am, that I am a liar and that I have a long running hatred of her and will do anything to discredit her. She was right about a couple of things. But what she didnt know is that in investigating the cheques, the trustees had asked my eldest nephew, Chris, what he knew about it. Chris confirmed that Dad had told him he was giving to both daughter and himself. The solicitors have helped run Dads accounts for years and know it was his habit if he gave to one daughter he always gave to the other equally. They have copies of the cheques and it can clearly be seen that Dad signed them and she made out the rest.
Its my complete frustration and anger at the whole thing that has made me write this blog, its therapeutic to do it. And she shouldn’t get away with it.
Dads ex-wife is still in touch with the woman who does the cleaning (Christine doesnt do cleaning) at Dads house and has done for years, even when she was married to Dad. Pam the cleaner told Anne that within two weeks of Dad dying Christine was on dating websites looking for her next victim, and within two months had found someone and he was a regular visitor to Dads house.
Me? I would like to see her in court, I would be happy for her to go to jail for what she has done. Its not just about the money, its the way she treated him for years, he was frightened of her, she bullied him. But they dont send you to jail for bullying people, they send you to jail for being a thieving bitch though, so we have to concentrate on the money.
Her house in Spain has been on the market for about three years, the property market in Spain has collapsed, and being greedy, she wont lower the asking price, so it hasnt sold. She wants to make herself homeless to try and make her claim on our house stronger. There is another reason though, the ex-pat community in Denia now know what she is and she is unlikely to be able to pull this stunt off again. Men out there wont touch her, so she needs to sell up and go somewhere else.
It seems from the solicitors letter that she needs to pay up and move out this month or they will begin proceedings in the new year. It cant come soon enough for me.