Help to save my home of 30 years

The main picture is of me, my beloved late wife Jane, our son and our dog, Fred, in 1990. Jane died shortly after this photograph was taken.

Hello everyone, thank you for looking at my appeal.

I am desperately trying to raise funds towards crippling legal fees to save my home and livelihood of over thirty-one years.
The account of how I now find myself in this horrendous and frightening situation can be found below.  I feel that if people are willing to contribute they must have all the facts as I have experienced them.  
A deliberately hidden secret kept from Jane and myself by Jane’s mum and her entire family for over 45 years has had the devastating effect of endangering everything Jane and I have so worked hard for, threatened now by people we have never known.

My plight in brief

In 1986 Jane and I decided we would start a new life venture in Wales away from city stresses, on our own at this stage.

In the knowledge that Jane was an only child (now know to be false) and sympathetic to her increasing sadness of leaving her parents behind, I suggested we invite Jane's parents to join us (an act of kindness I have sadly now come to regret) in our new life in Wales. It would have a great effect on our future income and plans for our venture  but Jane’s mum and dad readily agreed and Jane was overjoyed. 
Jane’s dad put some money originally offered to us to  help us with our new venture toward the cost of the purchase and we agreed that all four of our names were added to the deeds, so that in the natural course of events Jane would eventually inherit everything. We felt our future was secure. We all moved to our dream home that Jane and I had chosen.

Jane and I worked very hard to make the dream of our new life and B&B business come true, doing all the work ourselves – me renovating a derelict barn building into a living space for my in-laws and later 3 B&B rooms, maintaining and repairing and Jane cooking and looking after our guests. We were very happy that our dream had been achieved, especially with the news we had a baby on the way.

On the very day our son was born in 1989, our dream was shattered by the news that Jane had breast cancer. She died in my arms when our son was just 20 months old.  My beloved Jane was gone. Just a few weeks later we also lost her dad whom I also greatly loved and admired, I believe of a broken-heart.  Our home was a sad place to be, but I was determined to keep our dream alive for the sake of my little son as this is such a peaceful lovely area to bring up children in safety.

A year or so later, Jane’s mum decided to move to be near her sister in Cheltenham. Although still in great grief and wanting to help her out as much as I could, I prepared over many weeks her new house and made it as comfortable as I could for her. It left me exhausted.

Jane’s mum regularly visited us and we visited her every school holiday, being particularly pleased when her grandson would stay with her for days or weeks during the holidays. 

On one of these visits in late 2002, that Jane’s mum dropped the bombshell on me that she had had a son called David about seventeen years before my beloved late wife Jane was born!

I was so shocked that I went straight to see Jane’s uncle who very apologetically told me that when Jane was born, Jane’s mum made her entire family swear to secrecy that her daughter must not know of David’s existence. This deliberately hidden secret was kept from Jane for her entire life and remained a secret for over 45 years, seventeen beyond Jane’s death!

In 2012, I received, signed by David’s wife (who was recently appointed LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney) without my knowledge.) a document called 'Notice of Severance' that allows a joint owner’s property to go into their estate! This document was issued without Jane's mums knowledge!
This has the extraordinary power to over-turn the long held agreement, made in good faith in 1986, and that was always meant to be, that mine and Jane’s home is passed to the remaining survivors as written into our deeds at the time of purchase! 

I now greatly feared that the dream home and life Jane and I had worked and struggled for over the years and that I have been solely responsible for and maintaining was in great danger. 
Jane’s mum had never contributed to maintenance or any other ongoing cost nor had any involvement in running my home before or after she moved to Cheltenham.
I cannot allow anyone, especially those whom Jane and I have never known take advantage and benefit from mine and Jane’s personal tragedies, from our investment, from my life’s continuing hard work and from my commitment to our home and way of life. 

The agreement, written into the deeds made by us all in 1986 and indeed voiced by Jane’s mum before she died, that the remaining survivor on the deeds would inherit must mean that the ‘Notice of Severance’ is not valid.
It is this that I will be fighting in court.

So, I find myself in this terrible and frightening situation not of my making,  endureng over five years of great fear, stress, frustration and anger having to fight to save the dream home and way of life that Jane and I put everything we had into for what is justly and rightfully mine and my sons.

It has taken me a long time to decide to crowd-fund but I no longer have any choice as I have no other means to go further with this.

I now humbly ask for your support. 

Without your donations, I could lose my home, my livelihood - everything Jane I dreamed of and worked so hard for. 
Also you may also be supporting me in challenging a situation that any of us could find ourselves in by attempting to have the courts tighten rules preventing those obtaining too greater powers via LPAs .

If you would prefer to offer donatations personally, please private message me.
Any words of support will also be gratefully received and help immensely along with sharing my campaign as much as possible on every social media, Facebook, by email, Twitter etc.  I could not have got this far but for the support of some very special people in my life.

If there are unused funds, these will go to Cancer Research UK in my beloved Jane’s memory.

Hopefully soon, my son and I can get back the peace and tranquillity that Jane and I moved here for in the first place.

I thank you all sincerely in advance for your help in whatever way you can.

Good health and well-being to you all.

Douglas

Jane, in remission, with me and our son in 1989.

Please read on for a fuller account. Thank you.
                                              
Our story in greater detail

Jane and I moved to our present home here in Wales in 1986 to start a new life to escape the increasing stresses and strains of city life.

Originally, we fully intended to buy our new home on our own (I so wish we did now!) and started to plan how we would develop the derelict barn into a six or seven room B&B business.  Naturally, as every dad would do if they could, Jane’s dad offered us some money to help start our new venture.

Jane was getting increasingly upset at moving such a long way from her parents especially as she was an only child!!   (This false belief was a major influence on what I suggested next).

Sympathetic as to how close Jane and her parents were I suggested that we ask them if they would like to join us in our new life.  Jane thought it a wonderful idea and her parents readily agreed.

The purchase went through with Jane’s dad putting some of the money he’d originally offered to start our new venture toward the price and Jane and I agreed that all four of our names would be added to the deeds.  Jane’s dad explained this would mean that our home would always remain with the four of us, on death ownership being passed to the survivors on the deeds, which in the expected natural order of age would have been her dad, her mum, then me with Jane eventually inheriting everything. Without question, we accepted that our future was safe. 

How could we have known that not only would deaths not occur in the expected order but that the deceit of a deliberately hidden secret would put this agreement made between all four of us in jeopardy?

We had to scale down our plans for our B&B to make a living space for Jane’s mum and dad which indeed I did, taking many months of hard work given freely and happily.

Making them a living space meant Jane and I sacrificing quite a large portion of our potential income but above all, I wanted my lovely Jane to be happy in our new life. 

Jane and I worked very hard to make the dream of our new life and B&B business come true, doing all the work ourselves – me building, maintaining and repairing and Jane cooking and looking after our guests. We were very happy that our dream had come true, especially when we had a baby on the way.

Tragically, after about 4 years, Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer on the very day our son was born.  A mastectomy followed the next day with many months of treatments.  She went into remission but the cancer returned a year later.  Jane couldn't cope with the terrible treatment again, I had no choice but to accept her decision to cease it and to let go.  Sadly, in 1991 she died in my arms when our son was just 20 months old.  My beloved Jane was gone.

A few weeks later, her dad also died, a broken-hearted man.  They were so very close.

Our home was a very sad and lonely place to be at that time. Me and Jane’s mum kept going for the sake of our little son.

A year or so later, Jane's mum decided to live near her sister in Cheltenham. Before she moved in and still in great grief, I spent about six weeks exhausting weeks preparing her new house to make it as comfortable as I could for her,  giving my time freely and willingly.

Back at home, I carried on with the life venture that Jane and I set up. To make things more manageable with my small son, I switched from the B&B and did the work myself to convert our living spaces into self-catering accommodation. We would move out of our home during the summers and live in an old caravan on site until the end of the season.  This arrangement worked well and I could easily devote my time to bringing up our wonderful son.

Following the deaths of our partners, it was of course just me and Jane’s mum remaining on the title deeds, with the agreement known by both us that the remaining survivor would inherit the property and was never questioned as all parties were very well aware that our home and livelyhood was primarily mine and Jane's venture. Jane’s mum and dad had never contributed to any maintenance or any other ongoing cost nor had Jane's mum had any involvement in the property before or after she moved to Cheltenham.

While our son was growing up Jane’s mum was a regular visitor to our home and we would visit her very often in Cheltenham. She was always pleased to have her grandson stay with her for days and weeks during during every school holiday. She took pleasure in assuring him on every visit that when she was gone, her home in Cheltenham would be his.

Many years after Jane died, her mum drops the bombshell that she had a baby a long time before Jane was born!  I immediately went to see Jane's uncle Reg whom I trusted and had great affection for, who very apologetically told me that the whole family was sworn to secrecy and that Jane must never know she had a half-brother and that she must remain thinking she was an only child to her parents! Why??

This deliberately kept secret was hidden by Jane's mum and her entire family for over 45 years, and 13 years after Jane died age 35.  Jane, such a loving person and loved by all, would have been so delighted to know her half-brother.

It was sometime later when Jane’s mum told me that it was she who had made contact again with her son David after over four decades. David was brought up by a relative and is now in his seventies with grown up children and grandchildren of his own.
                              
When the trouble starts

All was well regarding our home for nearly 30 years after Jane’s death until David’s wife Jackie applied to become Power of Attorney to Jane's mum very shortly after becoming aware of the link Jane's mum and I had with my home because I had to inform her of an unpleasant personal event I was experiencing. About 18 months before Jane’s mum died I had to ask her for help with the said personal event and this help was willingly given and was expected to be carried with the help of Jackie.

In 2012, almost Immediately after the LPA was granted and without Jane's mum's knowledge or wishes, David’s wife issued what is called a ‘Notice of Severance’, something I had never heard of until the day I received it.  The ‘Notice of Severance’ enables my home to be split and added automatically to Jane’s mum’s estate. This in effect means that now that Jane’s mum has died, my home no longer passes to the survivors on our deeds as it was always meant to be and indeed had done so on Jane's and her dad's death without problems. 

It was only after receiving the ‘Notice of Severance’ that I understood that the dream life Jane and I had worked and struggled for over the years was based on deceit and the deliberately hidden secret of David’s existence, and that the agreement that all four of us had made in good faith in 1986 was now in jeopardy.

(Concerned that Jane’s mum may have been taken advantage of and unhappy with the inept Court of Protection rules for gaining Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) whereby no notice needs to be given to joint owners of property of the intention to appoint an LPA even if they have had direct involvement in someone’s life for many years, I started a legal challenge against the appointment, but sadly Jane's mum died before it could be heard.) 

The Will that Jane’s mum made in 2007 never included my home and livelyhood because of the agreement made in 1986.  David (and of course his wife who became Power of Attorney) and all of his family now stand to benefit greatly from my home and life’s work. Astonishingly, the law and the inept rules for obtaining Power of Attorney are helping them to do so!

The agreement made by us all in 1986 and spoken by Jane’s mum before she died that my home was mine must mean that the ‘Notice of Severance’ issued by someone Jane and I have never known, especially as it was issued without Jane's mums knowledge, is not valid!
It is this that I will be challenging in court.

I feel David’s family are attempting to benefit from the 45 year old secret, from mine and Jane’s personal tragedies, from our investment, from my life’s continuing hard work and from my commitment to our home and way of life.

To say I was devastated by the Notice of Severance is an understatement.  I was also shocked, frightened, angered and in utter disbelief that this simple ‘Notice of Severance’ document combined with Jane’s mum’s deliberately hidden secret has the potential to destroy my family's security and everything Jane and I put into our venture, and now my son's future, to benefit people we have never known!   

David and his family are already very fortunate indeed as they are to gain a large sum of money from the Will (that now also includes the proceeds from Jane’s mum’s house in Cheltenham) that they would not have had but through the tragedies that have befallen us.  

But this, it seems, is not enough for David's family as they do not want to accept or have the slightest bit of empathy that my home and livelihood is and always was the dream venture of Jane and myself. Jane's parents were very well aware of this, with the agreement made in 1986 as to who would inherit understood clearly by all of us, and borne out by the fact that Jane's mum never contributed or interfered before or in the 25 years or so since moving away.

But for these unfortunates circumstanses below, I very much doubt I would be in the terrible situation I'm in now.
1. If Davids existance not been hidden and was part of the family unit, Jane and I would have likely, as originally planned, moved to Wales on our own! 

2. If my Jane had lived as in the anticipated natural order (as Jane's dad had expected) it would have been she who would have been the sole heir to her mum and dad’s inheritance, never knowing of Davids existance.

3. If Jane’s mum had died one second before the ‘Notice of Severance’ was issued I would not be in this terrible situation because my home would have passed automatically to me, as the remaining survivor.

It is of great distress to me and my sense of humanity that I have come to regret my act of kindness to Jane by inviting her mum and dad to join us. 

Why should anyone else be entitled to one penny of the life Jane and I made for ourselves?  It seems to me the legal situation around Lasting Power of Attorney is allowing a process of a kind of legalized theft and needs to be changed to protect people like us, otherwise you could also find yourselves in a similar situation with your homes under threat.  Everyone needs to feel safe in their own homes.

I find myself now in this terrible situation, not of my making, to have to fight for what is justly and rightfully mine. My life has been in terrible turmoil for over five years because of the deceit and deliberately hidden secret.

There has been no meaningful response to correspondence or the reaching out that I have attempted over the last five years so I'm now forced to continue with court proceedings, the fees of which are estimated by my solicitor to be around £50-60,000.  My case is due to be heard in court in mid-2018.

I only earn a modest income living in this beautiful but relatively poor area and fighting this terrible situation has already cost me over £23,000 (over two years of income) and every penny of my small savings. I have also been unable to maintain my home properly because I am struggling to afford ongoing legal costs with what I feel is a very strong moral case in my favour.

I again thank you all sincerely in advance for your help in whatever way you can. 

PS. By pledging the minimim you will, on request, receive a more in depth explanation of my terrible situation starting with our plan to move to Wales.

This statement and any correspondence that may be entered into is Without Prejudice.
  
Other articles of interest:  Retiring Senior Judge Lush warning over lasting power of attorney risks.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40887323

Judge Lush is mentioned again here

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Organizer

Douglas Morris 
Organizer
Rhiw, Wales, United Kingdom
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