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Solicitor refusing to communicate with executor

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
43 replies 7.2K views
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  • Somerset wrote: »
    Thinking about this, is it possible your sister doesn't want to sell her % of the house to you or anyone ?

    The estate contains 3/8th's of a house. While you may want to buy your sister's share (ignoring whether valuation is correct or not) I don't see why you assume you can force her to realise her % at £x. Normally in a house/beneficiary split you get some who want the cash so there's the option of an open market sale vs negotiation between beneficiaries of 'buying out' those who want to be bought out. Your late mother's house is already 5/8th's owned by a trust, so it can't be sold.

    At this point I'm stuck. in theory you (as a beneficiary) could force the executor (also you) to realise your % value. But my point is, your sister, in this precise situation, is not doing that - she's sought legal advice to prevent her % being disposed of ie sold. I don't see how you can dispose of it without her consent. The possibilities are a) she wants to retain her % or b) she wants a better price and if b) it's not as cut and dried as you think.

    Edit : Just thought, if the above is correct, the solicitor may be obliquely putting you on notice that the executor (you) is not in a legal position to dispose (sell) his client's inheritance (the %) and that the executor (you) should take legal advice on that position before proceeding.


    Thanks for your feedback

    My sister has said she wants to sell her percentage of the house and has never once disagreed about the value the estate agents put on it. I know my sister doesn’t like the idea of me buying the house, mainly because of personal issues. Those being mum died here.
  • MojisolaMojisola Forumite
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    userrobert wrote: »
    My sister has said she wants to sell her percentage of the house and has never once disagreed about the value the estate agents put on it. I know my sister doesn’t like the idea of me buying the house, mainly because of personal issues. Those being mum died here.

    Then the situation is really strange.

    I think the only way out is to see a solicitor to get a view on what's happening and to contact your sister's solicitor. Remember, as executor, you can pay any solicitor's bills from the estate.
  • edited 26 September 2012 at 12:33PM
    daskadaska Forumite
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    edited 26 September 2012 at 12:33PM
    userrobert wrote: »
    Thanks for your feedback

    My sister has said she wants to sell her percentage of the house and has never once disagreed about the value the estate agents put on it. I know my sister doesn’t like the idea of me buying the house, mainly because of personal issues. Those being mum died here.

    Which appears irrational. Therefore you are unlikely to be able to bring her round. So you need to find a legal solution.

    Whichever way you slice it I think you NEED to take legal advice.

    N.B. I've edited my previous post to clarify, expand on bits of it :D
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  • daska wrote: »
    The funeral expenses are a liability on the estate and should be paid BEFORE the residual estate is disbursed to the beneficiaries.

    You can finish executing the Will by transferring the relevant percentages of ownership into the correct names. The cost of doing this is also a liability on the estate which needs to be settled BEFORE any disbursements to beneficiaries.

    You need to check the priority of the various bequests as to which take precedence but NO bequest takes precedence over a debt.

    If as a result of meeting the debts for which the estate is liable there is no cash left then there is no cash left! It's tough on the beneficiaries who might have been expecting something but it's not unfair, nor is it illegal. Wills aren't always updated to allow for every change in circumstances. If there isn't sufficient cash to meet the liabilities (and nothing moveable which can be sold to raise it) then the property will have to be sold to meet the debts or you could ask the beneficiaries asked to contribute to clear them before they receive any inheritance. End of! Your sister will have no choice because that is your job as exector and you do not need her permission to carry out your role. And, as you haven't registered her percentage ownership then she gets no say unless she launches a legal challenge. You really NEED to take legal advice simply to cover yourself in the event of a challenge on this!

    Or, if there is sufficient cash to meet the debts and you go ahead and finish executing the Will and transfer the ownership: Are the trustees for the part of the house which is in trust in favour of selling the property? Do you between you own the greater percentage of the property? It is possible to get an order to force the sale. But you will need to own your percentage before you can apply for that.

    Your sister cannot prevent you from carrying out your duties as exector and she isn't. She is obstructing you in your desire to purchase the house. Has it occurred to you that her obstruction might be because once she inherits it will affect her entitlement to means tested benefits? She may well have a vested interest in delaying the disbursement of the estate and sale of the house for as long as possible. In which case your only option in this instance is to work with the trustees to find a legal solution.

    And remember, memories stay with you, they are YOUR memories, they are not actually based in bricks and mortar.

    There is insufficient funds in mum’s account to pay both the beneficiaries and the funeral which is why I paid for the funeral myself. My thoughts were half of the funeral costs would eventually be deducted from the money my sister got from her percentage of the house, given she wants to sell if for cash, unlike myself who wants to keep my percentage for the bank as deposit to get the mortgage to buy it.

    Yes the trustees want to sell. It was the trustees who approached me with an offer to buy the property because I spoke to them about buying them out years ago. Since then we have had the place valued independently and I agreed with their offer because it was exactly the same as their offer.

    The trustees own the biggest majority with 5/8. Between myself and the trustees we own 7/8 of the property. I was informed there was a possibility to force a sale provided the house was put up at public auction and my sister informed of it. It is not really a route I want to take.

    As it stands her solicitor is ignoring my letters where I have asked him what his intentions are regarding the estate. To me this is him obstructing my duties as I am limited if she is intending to contest the will.
  • edited 26 September 2012 at 12:47PM
    daskadaska Forumite
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    edited 26 September 2012 at 12:47PM
    No, he's not, he's obstructing the sale. Unless the execution of the Will requires the sale of the property, either explicitly or as a result of settling the liabilities and dealing with the bequests in order of importance, then the sale does not form part of your duties as executor. You have no rights as a beneficiary until the executor has finished distributing the estate.

    I realise that you are both executor and a beneficiary but you must draw a distinction between the two. You must not allow your desires as a beneficiary to compromise how you execute the Will or you could get yourself into very hot water.

    I'm really sorry to say this but on the basis of your last post I think you are out of your depth and need to take advice.
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  • MojisolaMojisola Forumite
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    userrobert wrote: »
    There is insufficient funds in mum’s account to pay both the beneficiaries and the funeral which is why I paid for the funeral myself.

    You will find yourself left with the cost of the funeral.

    The funeral costs and any debts should be paid before any beneficiaries are paid.

    If there is no money left, you will also be paying for any legal advice you take.

    You can't deduct anything from your sister's share of the house because she was left part of the property, not the money after it was sold.

    You really need to finish sorting out the will and keep the sale of the house completely separate.
  • daska wrote: »
    Which appears irrational. Therefore you are unlikely to be able to bring her round. So you need to find a legal solution.

    Whichever way you slice it I think you NEED to take legal advice.

    N.B. I've edited my previous post to clarify, expand on bits of it :D

    Thanks.

    Yes that does make sense. My next step is to see a solicitor to see what they say regarding this.

    I originally approached my sister and made an offer for her to keep her percentage in the house, for it then to be released slowly each year so as not to effect her benefit. She refused saying she wanted all the money and would stop her benefit until she used all the money up! I was shocked she said this, but then again she is a money waster and simply wants to squander it. Mum knew this and was thinking of putting her money in trust to prevent her doing so. Unfortunately mum never got around to doing it.Then again it's her money and she can do with it as she wishes.
  • Mojisola wrote: »
    You will find yourself left with the cost of the funeral.

    The funeral costs and any debts should be paid before any beneficiaries are paid.

    If there is no money left, you will also be paying for any legal advice you take.

    You can't deduct anything from your sister's share of the house because she was left part of the property, not the money after it was sold.

    You really need to finish sorting out the will and keep the sale of the house completely separate.


    Ok I didn’t realise that. Thanks
  • daskadaska Forumite
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    userrobert wrote: »
    Thanks.

    Yes that does make sense. My next step is to see a solicitor to see what they say regarding this.

    I originally approached my sister and made an offer for her to keep her percentage in the house, for it then to be released slowly each year so as not to effect her benefit. She refused saying she wanted all the money and would stop her benefit until she used all the money up! I was shocked she said this, but then again she is a money waster and simply wants to squander it. Mum knew this and was thinking of putting her money in trust to prevent her doing so. Unfortunately mum never got around to doing it.Then again it's her money and she can do with it as she wishes.

    So it may be greed as well/instead of being irrational. Whatever you think she may in her heart of hearts believe that she'd get more money if the house went on the open market.
    Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants - Michael Pollan
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  • daskadaska Forumite
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    Just going back a step as well, it's probably worth spelling this out:

    You must not claim legal expenses from the estate unless they are specifically related to executing the estate. So consulting a solicitor to deal with your sister's refusal to sell would not be permitted as this is a private matter.

    BUT...

    You are allowed to consult a solicitor to confirm that you are taking the correct course of action as an executor, or to set up trusts, transfer ownership etc.
    Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants - Michael Pollan
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