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Solicitor refusing to communicate with executor

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
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userrobertuserrobert Forumite
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
I have a question which I’m hoping someone will know the answer too.

I am the executor to my mum’s will. Probate has been issued. My sister who I’ve always got on well with suddenly went to see a solicitor for advice. Since then she has asked her solicitor to not communicate with me. Every time I write to him regarding the estate he says his instructions are he is not to communicate with me direct on this matter, but only through a solicitor.

Where do I stand here as I do not want or need to appoint a solicitor to represent the estate.

Thanks,

Robert
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Replies

  • TonyMMMTonyMMM Forumite
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    If probate has been issued and you are the executor, there must be more information .... You haven't explained why you are having to communicate with your sister's solicitor at all- is your sister challenging the will or your handling of the estate ?

    If so, on what grounds ?
  • thorsoakthorsoak Forumite
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    If as executor, you are acting in accordance with your mother's wishes, and you are fulfilling the requirements of the Probate Office, there is no real reason for you to communicate with your sister's solicitor. If your sister wishes to raise objections to the will, then her solicitors should contact you with details of the objection.
  • edited 25 September 2012 at 4:21PM
    userrobertuserrobert Forumite
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    edited 25 September 2012 at 4:21PM
    Thanks for you both replying to my question.

    I have undertaken virtually all the requirements as executor. It was at the point where my mum’s property (to which she owned 3/8th as the other 5/8th is in trust to my stepfather's children ) was being purchased by me at its full market value. It was all done legally and both my sister and the trustees were in agreement.

    Two weeks before the settlement date (after nine months of negotiating with all parties) I found my sister had seen a solicitor and refused to sign for the property to be sold. Since then I have answered all her solicitors questions regarding our mum’s estate. He now say his client doesn’t want him to communicate with me, but through a solicitor.

    Her solicitor has not told me his intentions even though I have asked.
  • daskadaska Forumite
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    I do not believe that she is entitled to insist that you use a solicitor to deal with the estate but it may be worth consulting one and I believe you would probably be able to claim the costs of that consult from the estate as a beneficiary is demanding it.

    Do you desperately want to buy your mother's house or was it just a sensible solution that allowed the estate to be wound up?

    Unless you are absolutely heaven bent on buying it I would write, formally, in your capacity as executor, to all the beneficiaries, explaining that you are not able to continue with executing the Will without running up legal costs due to your sister's demand. Give them the choice of paying for a solicitor to act as go-between or your resigning the role of executor and them applying to take over the role or paying for a solicitor to act as executor instead.
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  • MojisolaMojisola Forumite
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    It may be worth taking advice because, depending on how the will is worded, your sister may not have any say in the sale of the house. There's a big difference between a share of the house being left to you and your sister and you, as executor, being instructed to sell the house and divide the proceeds.
  • There are only two beneficiaries who are named in the will concerning the property. Unfortunately they are my sister and I. The rest of the property (5/8ths) is in trust to my stepfather’s grandchildren who do not want to get involved in any legal matters.

    I have written to my sister’s solicitor already stating I have no intentions of getting a solicitor to represent me in this matter. I also stated his client (my sister) should actually be grateful of this fact because if I was to appoint a solicitor to represent me, it would be paid out of the estate she is inheriting. His reply was ….

    As previously advised, my instructions are I’m not to communicate with you directly on this matter, but only through solicitors.

    I can only suggest that you instruct your own solicitors in this matter.

    Surely if I’m legally appointed as executor to the estate, he has a duty to communicate with me?
  • Mojisola wrote: »
    It may be worth taking advice because, depending on how the will is worded, your sister may not have any say in the sale of the house. There's a big difference between a share of the house being left to you and your sister and you, as executor, being instructed to sell the house and divide the proceeds.

    Unfortunately I can't sell the property without this isssue being sorted because I'm using my part of the property as deposit with the bank.

    My view is my sister is intending to contest the will, although her solicitor has refused to answer any question concerning her intentions.
  • MojisolaMojisola Forumite
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    userrobert wrote: »
    There are only two beneficiaries who are named in the will concerning the property. Unfortunately they are my sister and I. The rest of the property (5/8ths) is in trust to my stepfather’s grandchildren who do not want to get involved in any legal matters.

    If you want, you could post the exact wording of the relevant bit of the will - removing any names, addresses, etc.

    I don't see how the solicitor can insist on you having a solicitor. You are the executor.
  • edited 25 September 2012 at 10:09PM
    daskadaska Forumite
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    edited 25 September 2012 at 10:09PM
    userrobert wrote: »
    Unfortunately I can't sell the property without this isssue being sorted because I'm using my part of the property as deposit with the bank.

    Sorry, can you clarify? Are you saying that you are determined to buy the house although there is no legal requirement for you to do this? Or that the will stipulates that you must buy the remainder of the beneficiaries out of the house?

    If you are determined to buy the house yourself, come what may, then I'm afraid I think it likely that you'll just have to kowtow to her demands. BUT as I said before I believe you would be able to claim the costs of that from the estate - and that would potentially affect ALL the beneficiaries because if the only asset that falls within the estate is the property then the property will need to be sold to pay the costs or they will need to reimburse the estate before the remainder is distributed.

    Mojisola wrote: »
    I don't see how the solicitor can insist on you having a solicitor. You are the executor.

    He can't, but at the same time he is obliged to follow his client's instructions. If the client has told him that he may only respond to another solicitor then he must respond to that effect.

    Having said that OP, I suggest you continue writing on a frequent basis, as she will be having to pay for him to write any/all of his responses saying that he isn't allowed to respond, as well as the letters he sends her to tell her you've sent/ requested information. Probably @ £12 a pop. Is she made of money? Send him info and requests in dribs and drabs.

    Edited to add that a thought popped into my head regarding time limits. I couldn't find anything about it on the justice site but I knew I'd seen something about time limits to dispute a will and according to this link it's six months. You mention 9 months of negotiations - how long is it since Probate was granted?
    Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants - Michael Pollan
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  • edited 26 September 2012 at 3:45AM
    Fire_FoxFire_Fox Forumite
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    edited 26 September 2012 at 3:45AM
    You are not being clear at all. What exactly does the will say, the property is to be transferred to you all jointly? In which case you have done this, you need to produce accounts and then you have done your duty as executor. Or does the will say the property is to be sold? If so why has it been transferred into the beneficiaries names and not sold as her estate?

    Why are you confusing matters by purchasing the property? This is a conflict of interests with your role as executor because you obviously don't want to pay over the odds nor can you sell for less than market value. Unless you buying this property is specified in the will it is not part of your role as executor, so your sister's solicitor does not have to communicate with you as beneficiary.
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