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Can someone explain how this is right?

edited 1 December 2014 at 9:50PM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
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AmesAmes Forumite
18.5K posts
edited 1 December 2014 at 9:50PM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
Things have gone from bad to worse and I think I need to complain about the solicitor. I'll put the latest here in this post, if people could reply at the end. I'll leave the first post for anyone who wants the history/context.


So, the house sale went through a few weeks ago and I got back the money the estate owes me, but couldn't get my share of the inheritance until all bills were paid. Fair enough.


Today I found out that the bills are all higher than was thought (by thousands). So my share of the estate will go down.


I was under the impression that all the final bills had been collected and amounts agreed before the sale price was agreed and it all went through. The extra debts are, therefore, coming out of my share of the estate (as sister's share is in the form of equity).


I think something has gone very badly wrong for me to be getting emails at this stage saying 'oh, sorry, we owe another couple of grand out, so you'll be getting less'.


Also, I'm really concerned at the pressure I was under in summer to agree to the house sale, without being given opportunity for more specialist advice. When I agreed to it my email stated that I didn't feel I was mentally capable of making such a decision but as there was no way of knowing how long that state would last then to go ahead with the sale.


With hindsight I'm not sure that a solicitor should have accepted a decision when my mental state was so unclear?


I'm really, really worried that I'll be in trouble with the DWP because of the reduction in money I'll be getting, as in effect I'm getting less than half of the estate and so being deprived of capital.


So, finally, my question is - should I complain about the solicitor advice I've been getting, and if so how do I go about it?




Start of original thread:


Hi all. The saga of the estate of my late mother is finally coming to a close, with my dad and sister buying me out of my half of the house (that's all there is to the estate, no money). Mum and dad were divorced a good decade before she died, sole beneficiaries are me and sister. No will, I'm estate administrator. There's a few things I'm confused about though.

I had a real shock a couple of months ago when I was basically told that if I didn't accept my sister's offer she could go to court to remove me as administrator. I'd actually been considering taking her to court because of actions that I felt to be unlawful. When my solicitor told me I had it all wrong I realised that I'd been having a manic episode and nearly got myself into a lot of hot water. I've just about come to terms with the fact that I became so ill without realising it. I still keep having thoughts though of 'that can't be right, surely'.

So I was hoping some of you wonderful and knowledgable people could help me get it straight in my head so I can properly move on?

In no particular order, here are the issues (or the ones I can remember, anyway).

1. The car. Within days of mum's death my sister put mum's car into her own name and has been driving it around ever since. We had an offer to buy it at £2500 on the day of mum's death.

I thought: That I was entitled to half the value of the car and it would automatically be sorted out when the estate is wound up.
It turns out: My sister has to agree to this. Obviously, she wont.

2. Work on the house. As soon as the probate forms were handed in, dad and sister ripped out the old kitchen (after I told them not to). They've done other work to the house. Dad has submitted an invoice for nearly £9k for this work - £600 of which he added this week for work done after they'd said they wanted to buy it.

I can't understand how it's right that the estate pays for improvements to the house done by the purchaser? No value has been added to the house, if anything the value has dropped because it took at least two years (as far as I know it still isn't finished) to do and any increase was negated by falling house prices and viewers saying 'sorry it needs too much work to finish'.

3. Living there... or not. Last summer sister told me she was going to live in the property on weekends and holidays and get a bedsit near work for weekdays. She applied for the 25% single occupancy discount.

I can't understand how the estate is paying the utility bills for the whole period since mum died, even though sister was (supposed to be) living there for periods of time.

4. Living there... or not. Part 2. On New Years Day, from abroad, I called dad and sister, to be told that the kitchen roof had fallen in. (Which turned out to be an exaggeration). The problem with the roof (estimate of 2k to fix) is responsible for the 14k reduction in house value.

I can't understand how if sister was living there the leak got so bad that part of the roof fell in. (Except, of course, that it turns out she wasn't living there, and was committing benefit fraud). Surely she's done something wrong there?

It turns out there's nothing I can complain about.

5. Money we've paid in. for the last two years we've been paying the mortgage, on the understanding that we'd get whatever we put in back when the house sold. Last year the council tax was added into the mix. I've submitted bank statements showing all the payments I've made. My dad and sister are now saying that she should get an amount equal to half of all the bills back.

I think that sister should get back what she actually paid. So, she got the single person discount and so at the very least the difference between that and the discount she could have got on her bedsit should be accounted for. Oh, and she stopped paying the council tax at all, without telling anyone, 'a few months ago'. She still hasn't said when this was. So I don't think she should get half the council tax back, when she wasn't paying it, but that's what her and dad are proposing.

I thought it would be quite simple - we both submit statements and get back what we put in. It seems we have to negotiate with what they're prepared to accept.

Although at least the probate solicitor has backed me up in saying no to their latest proposal - that the estate pays this year's council tax (ie up to next March), and if they get a rebate when they get tenants in they'll share it with me.

Finally! The conveyancing (I've posted on the housing board about this too).

I thought that the estate was liable for the conveyancing costs in relation to the sale.

It turns out that I'm personally liable.


I really thought that agreeing to sell to them at the price they offered would be the end of all of it. That there'd be simple maths to do and procedures to follow and I'd just have to keep on top of paperwork and wait for my cheque. But they're fighting over every last penny owed by the estate (except to them).

I know I'm being silly and petty, but all this stuff's keeping me up at night. I've accepted that I was in the wrong, but if someone could explain how and why it'll be a lot easier to move on. I raised most of these issues with the probate solicitor, but she didn't answer any of them just said 'you have to accept their offer or they'll take you to court'.

Really sorry for yet another long and whingy post. But don't worry - the end is in sight! Hopefully I'll have the cheque within a couple of weeks and be free of my family forever (we've not spoken since February), and so have nothing to moan about. Apart from the weather. (I do live in Yorkshire).

Unless I say otherwise 'you' means the general you not you specifically.
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Replies

  • CrabappleCrabapple Forumite
    1.6K posts
    All these things you mention, is this what your Solicitor has told you or what your family is saying?

    Any beneficiary can apply to have an administrator removed. However, whether they would be successful is a completely different matter. In fact they would have to prove wrongdoing. It's a threat basically and one that I doubt they would be able to follow through (as unless they had a strong case no lawyer is likely to touch it), but it would still delay matters.

    To some extent things do have to be agreed with beneficiaries, but to be honest what you are saying is very skewed in favour of your sister and that isn't right. If you can prove your expenses as you clearly can then they should be repaid, and the same for whatever expenses she can prove.

    The repairs to the house are rather dubious but it's going to be very difficult to deal with that without just accepting things.

    If your sister took the car then her share of the cash should be reduced by half the value so you also receive a share. This was an intestacy so everything divides equally. No person can just take assets as they see fit and get themselves a greater share.

    And costs like conveyancing should definitely be coming from the Estate. You don't have personal liability for anything like that, it should all get repaid.

    If this is advice you are getting from a Solicitor then I would suggest taking it to someone else before finalising. That would delay things though and you might wish to balance that up against being free of this situation.
    :heartpuls Daughter born January 2012 :heartpuls Son born February 2014 :heartpuls

    Slimming World ~ trying to get back on the wagon...
  • MojisolaMojisola Forumite
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    Crabapple wrote: »
    If this is advice you are getting from a Solicitor then I would suggest taking it to someone else before finalising. That would delay things though and you might wish to balance that up against being free of this situation.

    I would second this.
  • edited 8 August 2014 at 1:08PM
    AmesAmes Forumite
    18.5K posts
    edited 8 August 2014 at 1:08PM
    Crabapple wrote: »
    All these things you mention, is this what your Solicitor has told you or what your family is saying? It's what my solicitor is saying.

    Any beneficiary can apply to have an administrator removed. However, whether they would be successful is a completely different matter. In fact they would have to prove wrongdoing. It's a threat basically and one that I doubt they would be able to follow through (as unless they had a strong case no lawyer is likely to touch it), but it would still delay matters. My solicitor said that if I didn't accept the offer my sister 'could get legal advice and find out she can have you removed as administrator'.

    To some extent things do have to be agreed with beneficiaries, but to be honest what you are saying is very skewed in favour of your sister and that isn't right. If you can prove your expenses as you clearly can then they should be repaid, and the same for whatever expenses she can prove.

    The repairs to the house are rather dubious but it's going to be very difficult to deal with that without just accepting things. yeah, I know that.

    If your sister took the car then her share of the cash should be reduced by half the value so you also receive a share. This was an intestacy so everything divides equally. No person can just take assets as they see fit and get themselves a greater share. That's what I thought, but when I told my solicitor that I wanted half the value of the car she said she'd 'put it to sister' and see what she said.

    And costs like conveyancing should definitely be coming from the Estate. You don't have personal liability for anything like that, it should all get repaid. That's what I thought, but the conveyancer said differently.

    If this is advice you are getting from a Solicitor then I would suggest taking it to someone else before finalising. That would delay things though and you might wish to balance that up against being free of this situation.

    Completion's today.

    I'd made an appointment with a solicitor who deals with contentious probate issues. Then my sister said that if I didn't accept her offer by 5pm that night she was going to report me to the DWP for benefit fraud on the basis I was depriving myself of capital by not accepting a fair offer on the house. Then I got the email from the probate solicitor saying I had to have a good reason not to accept or sister could have me removed as administrator and that the benefit fraud thing was correct. I emailed her with all the above points, none of which were good enough reasons not to accept. So I agreed to it and cancelled the other appointment, as paperwork had to be dealt with within six days (dad was going on holiday and their mortgage offer expired before he got back) so I didn't have time to see them.

    The other issues I had were that sister turned down an offer on the house of £159k without telling me it had been made for several weeks and eighteen months later is buying it from me for £145k. Also that when the roof 'fell in' she went and took the house off the market (I was abroad and was told all of this after the fact) and went straight from there to the banks to get mortgage quotes. I haven't actually seen any proof that there was a problem with the roof, there's been no receipts shown for the work that's been done on it, dad has just said 'it's cost me £600'. Which is odd because the quote for a patch up job was £200 and the quote to redo the whole roof was £2k.

    Oh, and they've been denying me access to the house for well over a year. So for all I know they've trashed it to get the value down, lied about the roof (had I had access I'd have been able to keep an eye on things like leaks), and when the most recent valuations were done pointed out every last issue to keep the value down.

    The threats etc came after I said 'right, I'm going over, getting a locksmith to let me in and change the locks and getting it on the market'.

    The lack of access means I can't get any furniture or goods and chattels (including my personal belongings that are in the house). Although most of the furniture I'd said I wanted they threw away.

    By then I was reeling from finding out that instead of me going to see this other solicitor and having some legal recourse against sister for her underhand stuff, I was in the wrong and was sleepwalking into a serious situation re benefits and courts. Which meant that I was seriously manic and so very ill without realising it.
    Unless I say otherwise 'you' means the general you not you specifically.
  • MojisolaMojisola Forumite
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    Ames wrote: »
    Then my sister said that if I didn't accept her offer by 5pm that night she was going to report me to the DWP for benefit fraud on the basis I was depriving myself of capital by not accepting a fair offer on the house.

    "Not selling the house to me" is not a good reason to get someone removed as administrator.

    And the DOC of capital wouldn't hold water either.

    I would think there would be more argument that you haven't kept control of the estate - how can you be shut out of the property when you are the only one in charge of the estate? - but as it's your sister who has been instrumental in preventing you from sorting things out, I can't see that argument holding water either.

    It's a shame that you haven't had anyone supporting you so that you could stand up to your sister and father. It's probably best now to cut your losses and cut all ties with them in the future.

    Other points - the value of the car which your sister took should be deduced from her share of the estate;
    everything you've paid out will come out of the estate before money is shared out plus administrator's costs such as death certificates, phone calls, travel, postage, etc;
    the estate pays all costs involved in selling the house - absolutely no argument about that;
    if you didn't agree to work being done on the house, I don't see why you should be paying from the estate;
    if your sister has receipts for things like council tax, refund that - if she doesn't have receipts, I don't see how you can legally give her money.
  • AmesAmes Forumite
    18.5K posts
    Mojisola wrote: »
    "Not selling the house to me" is not a good reason to get someone removed as administrator.

    And the DOC of capital wouldn't hold water either. I didn't think it would but the solicitor was adamant.

    I would think there would be more argument that you haven't kept control of the estate - how can you be shut out of the property when you are the only one in charge of the estate? Dad borrowed the keys then wouldn't give them back. The spare keys were with the EA, and sister got them back when she took the house off the market. Requests through the solicitor for the keys were ignored. - but as it's your sister who has been instrumental in preventing you from sorting things out, I can't see that argument holding water either.

    It's a shame that you haven't had anyone supporting you so that you could stand up to your sister and father. Social services made a referral to a mental health advocate for me, partly on the grounds that I was at serious risk of financial abuse but the service refused to accept it. Last I heard SS were about to pull the contract because the service wasn't fulfilling it. It's probably best now to cut your losses and cut all ties with them in the future. I haven't spoken to them for months. The last time I spoke to dad was when I was in a surgical assessment unit. I called to say I'd just seen a surgeon who was sure I had appendicitis. All dad wanted to talk about was the house offer and would I accept it. I hung up (I was in a packed room and in a lot of pain) and didn't hear from him for two days when he texted to say 'sorry forgot to charge my phone are you home yet'. I can't remember the last time I spoke to sister. She didn't contact me at all while I was in hospital. So after three years of trying to keep them happy whilst staying within the law so I didn't lose them and not have any support, they're out of my life anyway. So I guess every cloud has a silver lining...

    Other points - the value of the car which your sister took should be deduced from her share of the estate; I don't think this is possible - she's buying the house from me for a fixed value using her half as equity. As she's not getting any money there's no share for it to come out of, so adding it as a cost to the estate only really reduces the money left for me.
    everything you've paid out will come out of the estate before money is shared out plus administrator's costs such as death certificates, phone calls, travel, postage, etc;
    the estate pays all costs involved in selling the house - absolutely no argument about that; I've emailed the probate solicitor and conveyancer to say that. I don't know why the conveyancer was so adamant I should pay. I didn't understand the point about 'if it were sold on the open market it would come from the estate but as it's your sister you have to pay'.
    if you didn't agree to work being done on the house, I don't see why you should be paying from the estate; I suppose it's just my word against theirs.
    if your sister has receipts for things like council tax, refund that - if she doesn't have receipts, I don't see how you can legally give her money. Neither do I and hopefully it'll work out like that. But I wont be the one physically handing out the money, that'll be the solicitor.

    Thanks again for all your advice.
    Unless I say otherwise 'you' means the general you not you specifically.
  • AmesAmes Forumite
    18.5K posts
    I emailed the conveyancer and probate solicitor about who pays the sale fees and had this reply from the conveyancer

    Unfortunately, you are paying your legal fees for the sale separately and not out of the estate. Your buyer will be paying their own legal fees.

    Not sure what to reply?

    (I've also got a thread on the housing board about the conveyancing issue).
    Unless I say otherwise 'you' means the general you not you specifically.
  • MojisolaMojisola Forumite
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    Ames wrote: »
    I emailed the conveyancer and probate solicitor about who pays the sale fees and had this reply from the conveyancer

    Unfortunately, you are paying your legal fees for the sale separately and not out of the estate. Your buyer will be paying their own legal fees.

    If the house was yours, you would have to pay the fees connected with the sale.

    The house is not yours. You are selling it as the administrator of the estate - the estate pays all fees.

    I sold my father's house earlier this year as his executor - all costs came out of the estate.

    I think you're getting very bad advice. (Is the solicitor a friend of your sister's?)

    Re the deprivation - if you sold the house for well below its value, you might be open to an accusation of DOC but not because it's taken some time to complete the work.
  • AmesAmes Forumite
    18.5K posts
    Do you mind if I copy and paste your summary of the fees and send it to the conveyancer?

    Neither solicitor are connected to my sister.

    The probate solicitor came highly recommended. Then a couple of months later were bought out by a firm that come highly unrecommended. The original solicitor was great, she saw me a couple of times and got to grips with all the issues. Then she went on maternity leave. The solicitor who took over the case just seemed to want to wrap it up asap - overnight the advice changed from 'your sister's demands are unreasonable' to 'accept or go to court and be done for benefit fraud'. In the last couple of weeks someone else has taken over (I don't know why, it just became a new name on the emails, no explanation). All she seems to be doing is passing emails between me and dad/sister. No advice at all.

    As for the conveyancer, I had no choice in who to go with. When I accepted the offer the probate firm (who all along had said they'd do the conveyancing and it would come under their bill to the estate) were too busy to do the conveyancing. As dad was going on hoiday six days later and the mortgage offer was due to expire before he got back, I had to find another conveyancing firm who could get the paperwork done within days. Out of ten that I contacted only one replied.

    There's also a bit of complication about who's buying the house. Right from the start dad and sister have told me they're buying it together, it's a joint mortgage, and I have several emails via solicitors which say that.

    However, the conveyancer says that according to sister's solicitor, it's only sister who's buying and dad's not involved at all.

    I don't understand how sister can get a 7x salary BTL mortgage when she's not a homeowner and has adverse credit.

    So either sister has spent the last few years bullcrapping me about how little she earns and how much debt she's in (which has meant I've had to pay more than her towards the mortgage), or there's crossed wires somewhere.

    I'm starting to think the conveyancer isn't a particularly good one. Which I guess is to be expected from a firm that can take on a new client at such short notice.
    Unless I say otherwise 'you' means the general you not you specifically.
  • Please don't take this the wrong way but are you quite well now and in a state of mind to be explaining things properly to people and to understand their replies?
  • AmesAmes Forumite
    18.5K posts
    On the forum where I can ask lots of questions and have things explained to me carefully and in lots of little words then it's ok. Especially since people can in return ask me questions. Plus, as I said, the aim of the thread is to help me get past all the bile that I have inside and move on.

    In the real world, however, where my decisions have legal implications, then no I don't feel I have the capacity to be understanding the issues and advice and have felt that way for months. It's why I wanted the legal advocate.

    I went into more detail about that in this thread

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5022250&highlight=

    My mental health is deteriorating rapidly. Even decisions like 'what shall I have for tea' are becoming difficult. Added to which I have several other big stresses and problems at the moment apart from the probate ones.
    Unless I say otherwise 'you' means the general you not you specifically.
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