Son left fortune by millionaire foster parents could lose his home

Son left fortune by millionaire foster parents could lose his home

July 31, 2023

Son whose millionaire foster parents left him fortune including three homes faces being kicked out of his £1m London house after losing court fight with charity over inheritance

  • Albi Mera has been sued by a charity for not paying their share of the inheritance

A man who was left a fortune by his millionaire foster parents now faces being kicked out of his £1million home after losing a court fight with a charity over the inheritance. 

Albi Mera was left 70 per cent of his foster father Stuart Brock’s fortune when he died, consisting of the £1million family home in Brixton, plus two other London flats worth more than £500,000.

Mr Brock had inherited the entire fortune of his wife Julie Royce when she died in 2015 and decided to pass on the majority of the family’s wealth to their beloved foster son under a will he made in 2017, eight months before he died.

But the engineering company boss also left 30 per cent to the charity WaterAid, which focuses on providing clean drinking water and sanitation facilities in third world countries.

Mr Mera has been living at the home in Brixton since the death of his foster father five years ago in 2018.

But he could now be kicked out and the house sold after being sued by the charity for not paying them their share of the inheritance.

Albi Mera was left 70 per cent of his foster father Stuart Brock’s fortune when he died

Mr Mera has been living at the home in Brixton (painted white) since the death of his foster father five years ago in 2018

Lawyers for the charity told judge, Master Katherine McQuail, that Mr Mera, as executor and personal representative of his foster father’s estate, had failed to pay them any money at all in the last five years, despite numerous requests.

And the judge has now made an order, removing him as executor and personal representative, directing that the house and another property be transferred out of his ownership, and handing him a £52,000 court bill.

Mr Mera told the judge that he couldn’t afford the court bill, saying he had lost his job as a manager at a drilling company and has been struggling to meet the mortgage payments on the two remaining family properties.

The judge told him: ‘I appreciate this is tough for you Mr Mera, but that’s what happens in litigation if you don’t win.’

Eliza Eagling, for WaterAid, told the judge that Mr Brock and his wife Julie Royce had fostered several children, but in his final will Mr Brock had left his wealth just to Mr Mera and the charity.

The net value of the estate was estimated at £1,141,686, taking into account mortgages on the properties, though that may have increased now due to house price rises, the barrister said.

One of the three family properties was sold in 2021 and the £80,000 proceeds are being held by solicitors.

But in 2019, the other flat and the family house in Brixton were transferred by Mr Mera as executor to himself in his personal capacity.

Questioning Mr Mera’s conduct as executor and failure to pay out to the charity, the barrister said: ‘Mr Mera has clearly preferred his interests to those of WaterAid and breached his duty to distribute the estate in accordance with the will.

‘Four years have passed since the grant of probate and WaterAid has received nothing.

‘Meanwhile, Mr Mera has purportedly sold the (Brixton) property to himself at a significant undervalue – £285,850, versus the probate value of £925,000.

‘It appears he has failed to pay the sale price to the estate.

‘All that is left is £80,026.52…even that has not been paid to WaterAid.

‘A replacement personal representative is clearly required as a result of Mr Mera’s conflict of interest and his breaches of duty.

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‘There is a dispute about the value of WaterAid’s 30 per cent interest in the residuary estate. Clearly someone independent needs to investigate.

‘In practical terms, WaterAid is very concerned about Mr Mera’s finances and its interest under the will being severely diminished or lost entirely.

‘He is in arrears on the mortgage payments on Sidney Road (Brixton) and there is also the equitable charge on the property,’ she said, asking for Mr Mera to be removed as executor and personal representative of the estate.

Judge McQuail said: ‘The defendant is in possession of two properties and the defendant has not made any distribution to the claimant. The claimant is awaiting its proper share.

‘The Sidney Road property seems to have been sold by the defendant to himself in breach of his duties and the sale price would appear to be nothing like the value.

‘In effect, the defendant has overpaid himself. He says he has always intended to pay WaterAid and has put a property on the market, but he has not put in evidence to that effect.

‘The main concern of this court is what is in the best interest of the beneficiaries.

‘In this case, the defendant has failed in the course of his custody of the estate to bring it to a conclusion and failed to provide clear and comprehensive explanation for what has happened, particularly Sidney Road being transferred to him when he was a trustee without any consideration being paid to the estate.

‘In my view, the defendant does need to be replaced by a professional person who can take steps, if necessary, to sell the properties which are currently in the defendant’s name.

‘I’m not necessarily forcing the property to be sold, but I can’t say for sure what course the independent executor will take.’

Mr Mera told her: ‘All these costs and everything else is going to be too much for me.

‘My intention has always been to pay WaterAid, but I have had struggles in my personal life. I’ve lost my job, but WaterAid don’t mention any of this.

‘I don’t want to be removed. Can I still live there as normal?’ Mr Mera asked.

‘That is not a discussion to have with me, but with the replacement personal representative,’ the judge said.

‘I appreciate this is tough for you Mr Mera but that’s what happens in litigation if you don’t win,’ she added.

WaterAid was established by the UK water industry in July 1981 as a charitable trust at their main office premises in London and established its first projects in Zambia and Sri Lanka.

It now runs programmes in 27 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, providing people with clean water and safe sanitation.

Its income has moved from £1million per annum in 1987 to £113million in 2018-19.

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