Marianne had been in a relationship where her other half, John, had been very controlling. Despite having ended the relationship however, when John contacted her demanding she sign some papers so he could get ‘his’ money out of some investments, she felt she had to comply to keep the peace. We also learned from Marianne that she still had a Santander current account in joint names with John but which he totally controlled, she having a separate Santander account in her own sole name. Craftily, he’d filled out the papers to have Legal & General pay her ISA proceeds to the Santander account he still controlled, but had promised her “a few quid for her share” if she signed and returned the papers. Not understanding the forms however, she brought them to us. Luckily.
We saw that one of the investments – a Legal & General stocks-and-shares ISA worth some £10,300 – was completely her property and the other, a Phoenix joint-life endowment policy, was legally fifty per cent hers, never mind “a few quid” as John had promised.
We explained this to Marianne and that we could get her what she was properly due in full. Marianne wasn’t sure about this. She could use the money, sure, but she was worried that John would turn up at her home to cause trouble. Marianne’s a nice person but not very assertive. We like to think we’re nice too but somebody once said of me “Neil is only marginally less assertive than the late German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, and that’s only the case because he doesn’t have a Panzer Army at his disposal.” So, we went in to bat for Marianne. First, we sent word to John via his mortgage broker that he should on no account contact Marianne and that any attempt to harass her in any way would result in an immediate complaint to the police. Then we arranged for Legal & General to pay the ISA proceeds to Marianne’s new account in her own name. Then we explained the situation to Phoenix who agreed to pay her half to her own account and John’s half to his. Lastly, we wrote a letter addressed to Santander for Marianne to sign to get her name taken off the joint account John controlled so that he could not run up any debt for which she would be jointly liable.
We’re not lawyers, but when it’s a case of right versus wrong we get stuck in on the client’s behalf, and we don’t mess around.
At the end of the day, instead of settling for “a few quid” Marianne ended up with more than £20,000. We thought that was a good result, but there’s an even better postscript. Marianne used the money for fertility treatment and a year later she had a baby boy.