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Executrix woes
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# 1
JBC45
Old 05-02-2011, 3:01 AM
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Default Executrix woes

Desperately hoping someone here can help me with some advice. Sadly, my mother passed away recently leaving a will which leaves myself and my sister as beneficiaries each expecting to receive 50% of the estate (which will be very little after creditors are paid).

Unfortunately I was named in the will as executrix. I appointed a solicitor to act as co-executor as I felt that the job would be too difficult for me alone. This has annoyed my sister who immediately entered my mother's home and took anything of value that she could find and is now refusing to return anything. My solicitor has advised me to accept a list from my sister detailing the items she took and the value of them.

I accepted this, but I now find that my sister has removed all photos including all of the one of myself and her as children. This leaves me without any photos of my mother except for the one on the funeral order of service.
I am extremely hurt that she could be so cruel as to leave me without a single photo and I now wonder if I have any rights at all in this matter and what I should do.
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# 2
GDB2222
Old 05-02-2011, 3:44 AM
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Well, you do have rights. The executors must gather in your mother's assets and distribute them accoprding to the will. It's not for individual beneficiaries to help themselves. Your sister has been thieving, and you could try to interest the Police.

But, but, but .... don't do that! I'm really sorry that you have lost your mother, and it must be a difficult time for you. It's also a difficult time for your sister, so you should both make allowances. Photos can be copied, things can be sorted out, but you only have the one sister. Especially at times like this, you need to hang on to each other, however exasperating the other one may be. She is obviously cross with you for hiring a solicitor to deal with what she probably sees as a simple matter, although you are quite within your rights to do that.

This isn't the time to stand on your rights, though. You are both grieving, and that doesn't make people the most rational. Hopefully, you will both feel calmer in a few months time.
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# 3
Savvy_Sue
Old 05-02-2011, 8:20 AM
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JBC, welcome to the boards, and despite the disclaimer in his / her signature I think that GDB has given the right advice.

If you possibly can, make it up with your sister. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and when you're grieving it's difficult to think straight anyway, but did you talk to her before hiring the solicitor and explain why you wanted to do it? Maybe she feels that she could have helped, and then this wouldn't have mattered. Maybe she wanted things to happen faster and worries that a solicitor will slow things down. Maybe she was desperate to get her share NOW.

I'm co-executor with my brother of my dad's will, and everything apart from Mum's half of the house goes to us and our siblings. At every stage / shareout we've explained what we're doing, what this payout represents, how we're getting on etc. We're both busy people so it's all taken time, and we've had to get some professional advice on how to proceed. Fortunately they all understand why it's us and not them who are doing this, and they're all glad it's us and not them!

And I am sorry for your loss.
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# 4
JBC45
Old 05-02-2011, 10:03 PM
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Thanks very much for the advice. Unfortunately though, there has not been any relationship with my sister for a long time. Immediately upon hearing that I would be executor she went and removed everything from my mother's house, requested a copy of the will and appointed her own solicitor (I do not know why she has a solicitor as yet).

I have already begged for some copies of photos and been denied them. I just don't know what to do. I intend to continue following my mother's wishes that everything be divided equally as is my responsibility but I feel that my sister is able to do exactly what she wants without any regard for either my mother's wishes or my feelings. I might understand if she had taken her childhood photos but to also take those that only had me in them was cruel.

I really do not want to have to call the police and right now i have no intention to do so, but I have to do something
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# 5
Mojisola
Old 05-02-2011, 11:12 PM
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If she appoints solicitors, they will tell her that she has broken the law by taking things from the house.
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# 6
Savvy_Sue
Old 06-02-2011, 1:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mojisola View Post
If she appoints solicitors, they will tell her that she has broken the law by taking things from the house.
They should, if she describes the situation accurately.

JBC, were you estranged before your mother died then? Would a phone call / flowers / card from you saying "I'm sorry we seem to be at odds with each other, I didn't want that to happen, communicating through solicitors seems so pointless, can we not sort this out at all?"

If it were me, I would certainly want to try that before instructing my solicitor to write to her solicitor, or even to her, but if you decide to do that, make sure you INSTRUCT your solicitor as to what you want. I'm pretty sure that what you don't want is a protracted exchange of letters: that way madness lies, plus any inheritance eaten up by legal bills, etc etc etc. However trying one letter might be worthwhile, especially if it leads to her solicitor telling her what the score is. Mind you she may be trying to get you disqualified as executor: it's not an easy thing to do! I'd leave her to it in that case.

The thing is, your mum appointed you and not her. We don't know why she did that, maybe you do. If it wasn't you putting undue influence on your mum, then she could rack up legal bills, which you want to avoid.
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# 7
Biggles
Old 06-02-2011, 8:38 AM
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This seems to have gone from a simple probate, which you could have done on your own at almost no cost, to the risk of a complex legal battle which could eat up most of both your inheritances.

I'm not sure why you appointed a solicitor but, if it was indeed that which annoyed your sister, can you not suggest to her that you do away with the solicitor and she helps you to get probate instead?

Last edited by Biggles; 06-02-2011 at 6:51 PM.
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# 8
chesky369
Old 06-02-2011, 1:25 PM
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You say that the estate will be "very little after creditors are paid".............. is it worth more than the costs of the solicitors you have employed?
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# 9
dzug1
Old 06-02-2011, 3:45 PM
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Slightly tongue in cheek answer, but you could tell your sister that what she has taken amounts to one third of the estate and that that's her share......

Maybe not really, but it's a tempting thought.
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# 10
Oldernotwiser
Old 06-02-2011, 6:27 PM
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How does your sister have access to your mother's house? If you haven't already, change the locks.
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# 11
JBC45
Old 07-02-2011, 12:00 AM
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Thank you for all the advice. I have now had the locks changed but there is nothing left in the house anyway now.

I chose to appoint a solicitor as I had my suspicions that my sister would try something underhanded and I wanted complete transparency in what I do so that there will be no comeback in future. I could not trust my sister to act as executor after her actions.

I am planning to speak to my solicitor tomorrow and see if I can demand that the items be returned. I have had enough of being reasonable and it can be pretty lonely on the moral high ground.
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# 12
monkeyspanner
Old 07-02-2011, 9:16 AM
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You mention you "could not trust your sister to act as executor after her actions", so was she appointed executor in the will? It does sound as though the only beneficiary of this will is the solicitor.
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# 13
Biggles
Old 07-02-2011, 12:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyspanner View Post
You mention you "could not trust your sister to act as executor after her actions", so was she appointed executor in the will? It does sound as though the only beneficiary of this will is the solicitor.
Maybe that's a response to my suggestion that she asked the sister to help her get probate, in order to a) defuse the situation and b) save on the quite pointless fees of two solicitors.

I still think some negotiation should be possible to prevent the whole estate going up in smoke, even at the expense of abandoning any claims to the items that were taken from the home. They may have had sentimental value, but were they worth more than the whole estate?
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# 14
JBC45
Old 07-02-2011, 10:25 PM
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Yes Biggles, my response was to your suggestion. I am sole executor.

Having now spoken to my solicitor it looks like my rights here are non existent. My sister has lied about what she has taken but because I can't prove it she can keep what she took. And she does not have to give me any photos unless she wants to as they have no monetary value.

Wish i'd changed the locks sooner but unlike my sibling, my immediate thoughts on hearing that my mother had passed away were not to grab wahatever I could get my grubby hands on. Shouldn't have trusted my sister either
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# 15
GDB2222
Old 08-02-2011, 10:37 AM
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I am really sorry that you have fallen out with your sister to this extent. I guess you'll just have to offer to pay to have the photos copied. Maybe that'll cost £50-100. That's going to be an awful lot cheaper than getting into a legal fight about any of this stuff.
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# 16
Mojisola
Old 08-02-2011, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GDB2222 View Post
I am really sorry that you have fallen out with your sister to this extent. I guess you'll just have to offer to pay to have the photos copied. Maybe that'll cost £50-100. That's going to be an awful lot cheaper than getting into a legal fight about any of this stuff.
If she's really mercenary, this might work.

You can also point out - but not in writing - that you are so upset about losing all the family photos, etc, that you will struggle to get the probate work done and it might be ages before she gets anything else from the estate.
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# 17
JBC45
Old 13-02-2011, 6:28 PM
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Just an update for those who kindly offered me advice.

My sister is now denying that anything was taken from the house. I am not able to prove otherwise. Any photos of my mother wearing jewellery are in my sister's possession. I have asked politely for copies of photos, offering to pay for them to be done and offering to do them myself but have been refused. Although my sister is now saying that my mother threw most the photos which contained me away. This is, of course, a lie. My mother and I had a close relationship and a mother does not throw photos of her child away, no matter how old they are.

My solicitor tells me that as a beneficiary of the estate, she is entitled to have whatever she wants and there is nothing I can do about it. I guess I just have to get on with it. I'll have a house to sell soon and i'm sure there will be a lot of hassle coming from my sister when it comes to that.
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# 18
GDB2222
Old 13-02-2011, 7:32 PM
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It's a shame, really, isn't it. As executor, you can just get on with the house sale as you think best, largely ignoring your sister's complaints. You should get a book out of the library about what to do, and of course you should take legal advice so you're 100% bulletproof - the cost coming out of the estate.

In practice, though it would probably be very nice to get back at your sister, it's far better to avoid any disputes as you could end up spending both your inheritances on legal fees if you go at it hammer and tongs. So, consult her about what she thinks should be done, and if your solicitor agrees and you're happy, do what she wants. Just bite your tongue if you have to.
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# 19
monkeyspanner
Old 14-02-2011, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBC45 View Post
Just an update for those who kindly offered me advice.

My sister is now denying that anything was taken from the house. I am not able to prove otherwise. Any photos of my mother wearing jewellery are in my sister's possession. I have asked politely for copies of photos, offering to pay for them to be done and offering to do them myself but have been refused. Although my sister is now saying that my mother threw most the photos which contained me away. This is, of course, a lie. My mother and I had a close relationship and a mother does not throw photos of her child away, no matter how old they are.

My solicitor tells me that as a beneficiary of the estate, she is entitled to have whatever she wants and there is nothing I can do about it. I guess I just have to get on with it. I'll have a house to sell soon and i'm sure there will be a lot of hassle coming from my sister when it comes to that.
Make sure you get full reimbursement for your expenses as executor and keep the receipts for any expenditure in case of disputes.
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# 20
Mojisola
Old 14-02-2011, 11:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBC45 View Post
Just an update for those who kindly offered me advice.

My sister is now denying that anything was taken from the house. I am not able to prove otherwise. Any photos of my mother wearing jewellery are in my sister's possession. I have asked politely for copies of photos, offering to pay for them to be done and offering to do them myself but have been refused. Although my sister is now saying that my mother threw most the photos which contained me away. This is, of course, a lie. My mother and I had a close relationship and a mother does not throw photos of her child away, no matter how old they are.

My solicitor tells me that as a beneficiary of the estate, she is entitled to have whatever she wants and there is nothing I can do about it. I guess I just have to get on with it. I'll have a house to sell soon and i'm sure there will be a lot of hassle coming from my sister when it comes to that.
This isn't right. As one of the beneficiaries of the estate, she is entitled to what has been given to her in the will, once everything is settled.

You, as the executor, have complete control over the estate until everything is settled. No-one can inherit anything until all the paperwork has been finished.

I wonder if the solicitor has said this just because he/she realises that you can't really force your sister to return items if she continues to deny that she took them.

It's a horrible situation for you and you'll probably have to keep the moral high ground and do everything by the book and hope your sister has a change of heart at some time in the future.

As moneyspanner says, make sure you are reimbursed from the estate for everything you spend.
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