THE daughters of the late Sir Nicholas Fairbairn may become involved

in a legal wrangle over his estate with his second wife Sam -- just

three weeks after his death.

At stake is Fordell Castle, the magnificent 13th century keep rescued

from ruin by the former Solicitor General for Scotland, and left to Lady

Fairbairn. Bought for #100, it is now worth close to #1m, and is

understood to comprise the bulk of Sir Nicholas's estate. His body lies

in a crypt in the grounds.

But Fordell may have to be sold to meet the daughters' claims.

Charlotte, 31, Sir Nicholas's middle daughter and mother of his only

grandchild, six-month-old Jake, confirmed the possibility, but added:

''But then it may well be sold anyway.''

Speaking at her country house in the Lake District, Charlotte, married

to composer Ross Pople, said: ''I'm shocked that this is known. We don't

want it to come to court.

''My solicitor is preparing a letter to Sam to try to get some sort of

settlement to avoid all that.

''We want to do this with dignity.''

She refused to detail exactly what the sisters' claim on the estate

would be after phoning her solicitor. But she admitted: ''Yes, Fordell

may have to be sold. We don't know exactly what the estate is.''

Sir Nicholas, was understood not to be ''cash rich,'' although it is

believed the girls were left a small cash legacy. Fordell has only

several acres . . . the bulk of the original estate is split between

many owners. Although it is beautifully furnished, few of the pieces

would make real money on the open market.

Sir Nicholas always maintained he bought the castle and denied

suggestions that it was a wedding present to him and his first wife.

Charlotte, Anna-Karina, and Francesca are Sir Nicholas' only children

from his first marriage to the Hon Elizabeth Mackay, daughter of Lord

Reay. He described them as his ''little women'' in his autobiography

calling their childhood in Fordell idyllic. Their mother said last

night: ''I have no wish to comment on my daughters' actions.''

Sir Nicholas married Sam, now 53, 12 years ago. She had a son, Callum,

from her previous marriage. Lady Fairbairn, distressed and exhausted,

has been confined to bed on doctor's orders. A family friend said: ''The

last weeks of Nicky's life took an awful lot out of her. Now this from

the girls has just floored her.

''She has to cope with grief and the possible loss of her home.''

Last year Sam hosted a party for Sir Nicholas's 60th birthday and

Charlotte's 30th at Fordell. The friend added:''She couldn't have been

kinder to the girls.''

Solicitor Adrian Ward confirmed that he was acting on behalf of all

three daughters in relation to the administration of the estate. He

said: ''They have consulted me with regard to their position. They

simply wish to see that matters are handled fairly and amicably.

''It is sad that things have to be addressed, but this is not an

agressive or confrontational action by the daughters. These are acutely

private and confidential matters concerning the family only. Discussion

between the lawyers are continuing.''

In London, Francesca said: ''I really can't say anything, because I

might say something I will regret.''

Solicitors representing Lady Fairbairn said the executors of the will

did not want to comment.

Over the past few years, Lady Fairbairn has made Fordell pay for

itself. The roof was restored largely due to ''paying guests'' from

America and Russia who would be given a tour of the keep followed by a

lavish lunch. The couple both adored the castle. Sir Nicholas once

wrote: ''For me, my castle is my home, but, more, it is the very

expression of my soul within and without.''