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19th century inheritance

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19th century inheritance

Postby richardrcj1981 » Thu May 31, 2018 10:42 am

Hi,

Can anyone please help?

I have a woman in my family tree who lived in London with her husband until they separated around 1813, and after she moved to where her daughter lived in Birmingham. She made a will a few years after she moved back to Birmingham. After this in 1834 she received a lot of money from her ex husband in his will and she brought 3 house with the money, but she did not change her will to include them. She died in 1843.

I know that the family did not befit from any sale of the houses and they did not take over ownership of the houses.

My question is that if the houses were not mentioned in her will, what do you think would happen to them after she died?

Please help

Richard
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Re: 19th century inheritance

Postby elsabels » Thu May 31, 2018 10:51 am

It is not common for some property, including bank accounts / other investments to be missed when applying for Grant of Probate or Letters of Admin.

Have you checked Probate to see if there is an addittional entry?
This maybe some years later when it was realised that she owned the property!

Did she transfer the property to other family members.

If you know the address perhaps a search of land registry may help.
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Re: 19th century inheritance

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu May 31, 2018 3:47 pm

richardrcj1981 wrote:... After this in 1834 she received a lot of money from her ex husband in his will and she brought 3 house with the money, but she did not change her will to include them. ...

I know that the family did not befit from any sale of the houses and they did not take over ownership of the houses.

My question is that if the houses were not mentioned in her will, what do you think would happen to them after she died? ...


Any competently written will should be written to cover all a person's estate. It will probably not mention everything explicitly, so the fact that the houses aren't mentioned, shouldn't matter - there will (OK, should) be a bit about "the residue of my estate" or similar sort of words - the houses, if owned by her, would by disposed of according to the instructions referring to "the residue".

However... Firstly, I'm going to assume that you're correct in saying that her family didn't benefit from the houses. Don't know how you know this, because evidence of property ownership isn't always clear, but let's take it as read.

Secondly, when I read this, I got a touch concerned about the description of the will. I'm just saying this from no more than a gut feeling, because you've seen the two wills and I haven't, but an arrangement such as you describe would be unusual.

What you have to understand is that married women could not own stuff in their own right at this time - it all belonged to their husband. Hence, if a husband wanted to leave an inheritance to his child, there was a serious risk that the money, if bequeathed via the wife, would never reach the child if the wife remarried. If the husband left all his estate, say, to his wife, and she remarried, then the entire estate would belong to the new husband and he could waltz off with that inheritance leaving the first husband's children with nothing.

To overcome this sort of threat, the first husband would leave the estate to his wife in a special form. The estate would actually be in the hands of trustees and the wife would be granted a life interest in the estate. That means she got the interest from the estate, but that was all - in fact sometimes it even says, "unless she remarries". The husband's will should then state what happens to the estate after the death of the wife - perhaps it would be split between the children outright / absolutely - but sometimes the daughters would also only get a life-interest to avoid them being chased by smarmy gits who would marry them just for their inheritance and then disappear with it.

All of which is a long way of saying that you need to read both wills carefully, looking for phrases like "life interest". Also look for the appointment of trustees, who would be the people effectively owning the property on behalf of the estate. I have a suspicion that things may not be quite as simple as you might think in terms of that ownership.

Another aspect is that it might be that the wife's will meant that the houses (if they belonged to her) had to be sold to allow the money to be inherited by her heirs - e.g. if there were 2 or more children to be catered for and no explicit "Susan gets house X and Deborah gets house Y" provision, then the houses would need to be sold to split the estate evenly.

Good luck - as you are finding, wills aren't always simple!
Adrian
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Re: 19th century inheritance

Postby junkers » Thu May 31, 2018 10:40 pm

Have you looked at the probate accounts (IR 26and IR 27) at The National Archives, I think they may be online. If you could let us now the name of the woman and her ex-husband we might be able to help further to suggest various documents you might not have considered.
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Re: 19th century inheritance

Postby richardrcj1981 » Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:24 am

Thanks for your help everyone.

I saw a photo of what I thought was the whole will online, but I contacted someone on Ancestry who is a distant relative of mine and she had a Abstract of the full will which had more on it than the photo. This will should be held in the Staffordshire record office, so I'm going to contact them and see if they have the original that I can go an see.

many thanks

Richard
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Re: 19th century inheritance

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:36 am

If the original is at Stafford Record Office, then it's probably in the Staffordshire wills collection on FindMyPast if you can get access to that. That's not a certainty by the way because the FMP collection is the stuff from the Diocesan courts and any RO may have other wills from family collections, solicitors' archives etc.

But as I said, you need to see both wills to try to understand the exact conditions of the bequests.

Sent from my MotoG3 using WDYTYA Forum mobile app
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Re: 19th century inheritance

Postby richardrcj1981 » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:34 am

Yes that's the reason I want to see the actual will. The abstract gives the names of the people mentioned in the will but not who received what from the will. On the abstract it says it was taken from a copy of the actual will so fingers crossed there's one still in the record office. I looked on FMP but there is only a photo of the index page not the actual will.
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