Postby Will-I-Am » Mon Mar 13, 2023 3:29 pm
I have personal experience of two similar situations.
Your partner's aunt is, of course, entitled to leave her money to whom she wants, but she was perhaps naive not to anticipate the bitterness of those she excluded. I am sympathetic to your partner's family, but the situation now needs to be resolved, and to do so they will have to concede something to the cousins.
Taking this all the way to court is likely to cost each side well in excess of £150k and will take years, as the courts are clogged up. Is your partner aware of the costs involved, even if he is successful? And it involves a lot of time and emotional energy while your family grows up.
You wisely said this: The assets are abroad and I am personally of the opinion none of it was worth anyone's trouble (economically speaking at least). While I was frank at the beginning of this ordeal that I would just arrange it for it to be equally split with whoever could have a claim to it, my opinion was completely ignored.
It sounds as though it is really worth going to mediation, which will still cost £5k-£20k+, but it will facilitate a rapid resolution. Mediation has a fixed date in the near future and creates a focal point for everyone to vent their feelings and frustrations, and the outcome is probably a split. It is not clear if your aunt had two siblings or more, but there are at least 5 cousins involved (your partner and at least 2 siblings, and at least 2 cousins). They could decide at mediation to divide it evenly across the number of cousins, or they could divide it instead across your aunt's own siblings and let them divvy it out to their children, the cousins.
An alternative solution could be to offer the cousins a sufficiently large sum for them to drop their objection. It's one thing to hold out for the promise of, say, £250k from a case which may or may not go your way. It's another to be offered, say, £30k to be paid directly into your ISA over the next month. A bird in the hand.
Re you and your partner:
From what you say the damage is already done to the relationship with the objecting cousins, so now it is about minimising the damage to you and your immediate family. Your partner's outrage and indignation are entirely understandable. However, the bigger picture is a major drain on your combined savings and on his precious time with you.
I would establish how much has been spent to date and add up the time, and define the duration. Then I would sit him down somewhere- not at home, change his perspective - lay out the facts first, what has been done and spent so far and what is likely to be done and spent into the future. Get him to say what he expects to get from his stance, financially and otherwise. Then explain to him the impact on you and how, with no end in sight, this is now having a detrimental impact on you, and on your relationship with him, to the extent that you have felt compelled to take this action to confront him. I would push him to encourage his family to mediate with the cousins, with a view to splitting the money, whether equally or not.
Wish you good luck.