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Family Dispute - Criminal Damage and Contesting Fathers Will

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8plate | 14:16 Mon 05th Dec 2011 | Law
7 Answers
I have recently been embroiled in a family dispute concerning a younger sister age 41 due to fact that she continues to harass, bully, intimidate and live off my father’s income. She lives with my father, she has never been in employment and has never contributed to any expenditure whatsoever within my father’s house. She receives no social benefits as she refuses to work. My father’s only income is his pension for which he has to use to pay every expense for which he is responsible for, in addition to that of my sister, including clothes, food and other expenses.
Upon visiting my father recently, who was absent in his presence I came upon a number of my personal possessions that were evident on his driveway. These possessions were namely my wedding photo album dated from 1994 which was a gift to my mother and father and a 5ft tall exotic plant (Bird of Paradise) which my father was caring for on my behalf. To my horror the exotic plant had been hacked down and completely destroyed. My wedding album was cut up and defaced with obscenities in a most appalling manner and had been left outside open to the elements which upset my wife and young children who were in attendance. I was also made aware that all my school documents from my time in primary and secondary education and family photographs had also been destroyed and disposed of by my sister.
The aforementioned possessions are irreplaceable and the acts carried out by my sister I consider criminal damage for which I would like to seek advice with a view to her being prosecuted under the criminal damages act 1971. The plant is not such a big issue as I can replace it with another of the same type, although they are expensive plants costing in excess of £200. By far my largest loss is my personal possessions which were of great sentimental value that cannot be replaced.
This is not the first time that my sister has carried out this ghastly act as she done exactly the same to my two other elder sister’s wedding albums and family photographs shortly after my mother’s untimely death from cancer in 2008.
My father does not see his 6 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren due to the irrecoverable family disputes that have torn the heart out of our relationships due to unreasonable behaviour of my sister. I have also discovered that my father has recently changed his will in which my sister has complete ownership of my father’s possessions upon his death for which I believe he was bullied and influenced into completing. My father is suffering from health mobility problems due to arthritis of his knees for which she offers no help to him in making doctor’s appointments or taking medication, she has only one agenda and that is her own selfish well being.
I have contacted the police with regard to this matter who have confirmed that as a civil family matter it is beyond their responsibility to be involved, as such I would have to seek legal advice in order to seek representation with a view to seeking a prosecution against my sister for criminal damage and recompense for my losses and any advice on the fair execution of my fathers will upon his death.
My two elder sisters are highly supportive of this action.

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Its a great pity when this sort of thing happens within families.
Probably best to go and see CAB who may be able to get you in touch with 30 minutes of proper free legal advice (regarding your father's mental capacity and the changes to his will).
Personally I wouldn't go down the loop of trying to get a prosecution for criminal damage - just explain to your father that you need to remove any other personal possessions you may still have in there.
I have to say, rather bluntly, that your sister sound mentally ill.

But I also have to say if she had destroyed other people's possesions in 2008 why did you leave your possessions there, as there was a good chance she would destroy more.

See if you can get "power of attorney" over your fathers estate, though I bet your sister would probably try to contest this as well.

One other option is to try to move your father into a one bedroom retirement flat, then your sister cant live with him and will have less influence over him.
i think you are going to have to let it go (although that's not what you want to hear) if the police wont help, it'll be costly to you to try and get a private prosecution, and if you wanted to take her to small claims court, the inherent value of the items is very small.
Although it's not much help to you now, get everything out of your dad's house that belongs to you (my mum and dad got rid of all my stuff when i got my first place!)
regarding you dad's mental capacity, if he has it, it's up to him who he leaves his assets to, and he may well ahve not been bullied by your sister, he might be worried about her because she dosen't have a job or home, You needto get him alone and ask him about it. PS will's don't necessarily have to be "fair"
Bednobs is right, wills do not have to be "fair". If the will was professionally drawn and instructions were taken direct from the testator, proving undue influence is going to be difficult (but not impossible). Really depends on what sort of influence was brought to bear (coercion is not allowed, persuasion is).

Regarding your personal possessions, you could take an action under the Tort (interference with Goods) Act, however, damages are likely to be minimal and your costs are unlikely to be irrecoverable given that it is likely to be under the small claims track limit (mainly only fixed costs are allowed).

See if you can get a free half hour with a local solicitor. If your father's capacity is in doubt you probably ought to do so sooner rather than later.
i am going to print this page out and frame the "bednobs is right" section from barmaid :)
i agree with VHG... your sister sounds 'not all there'... to act like such a child at 41, to have never worked and still with her father...

how do you know she does nothing for your father?

maybe he feels she does and maybe hes worried for her when hes gone... clearly no-one else in the family will look out for her and she cannot do it herself, so hes wanting to make sure she has enough to take care of herself... he perahps feel the rest of you dont 'need' his stuff, you just 'want' it... whereas she needs it.

to say she is living off him when he has nothing himself, although very cheeky, is hardly the actions of a gold-digger...they must be living with very little and it must be hard... thats a lot to live through unnecessarily.

that said, if shes just lazy she needs a kick up the arse
How old is your father. Could you invoke the Vulnernable Adults procedures with Social Services if he is not compus mentis sorry sp

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