Money in trust: what would you do?

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
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Voyager2002Voyager2002 Forumite
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
Looking for opinions on this, which experts describe as an unusual case...

Following a bereavement I found papers showing that some shares (worth perhaps 150 pounds) had been held in trust for the old man's children, and so jointly owned by him and his solicitor, both acting as trustees. On his death, the share registrars transferred ownership into the sole name of the solicitor.

The solicitor has of course retired and is in his 80s, and perhaps is losing his marbles. After he had been shown all the papers and requested to sign a form transferring the shares to the (now adult) children, he asked for lots more papers; then said he would only discuss the matter with a solicitor acting for the owners; then replied to the solicitor saying that he did not remember anything about the matter and suggested they ask someone else!

It would of course be possible to take him to court, but the value of the shares is less than probable court costs. And if the retired solicitor is no longer competent, then presumably the judge would dismiss the case.

While the Solicitors Regulation Authority has a fund to compensate the victims of dishonest or incompetent solicitors, this case seems to fall outside its terms.

Any ideas?
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  • Margot123Margot123 Forumite
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    On what do you base your claim that the retired solicitor is 'perhaps losing his marbles' or is 'no longer competent'?

    He may have good reason for his actions. Just because you don't like them, and he is in his 80s, doesn't make your claims valid.
  • Voyager2002Voyager2002 Forumite
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    Margot123 wrote: »
    On what do you base your claim that the retired solicitor is 'perhaps losing his marbles' or is 'no longer competent'?

    He may have good reason for his actions. Just because you don't like them, and he is in his 80s, doesn't make your claims valid.

    His replies, and his comment about not remembering something when his signature is clearly on the document in question, do suggest this.

    My interpretation of the papers suggests that he does not have good reason for his actions, and my interpretation has been confirmed by an official of the SRA.
  • Margot123Margot123 Forumite
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    It is more than possible he doesn't remember anything about it.
    Solicitors have approx. 100-150 cases per week ongoing. Over the years, they are only going to recall the most memorable of cases.
  • JenniefourJenniefour Forumite
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    I wouldn't have thought that retired solicitors should/are allowed to continue acting in their professional capacity when they're retired. I imagine they have clear obligations to hand over all ongoing work, and any work that would need some future professional input. Neither will their work be professionally insured.

    I don't know what to suggest - this all sounds grossly unethical to me - apart from contact the Law Society. I can't imagine the scenario you have outlined would fit with the legal and ethical obligations on solicitors who retire.
  • Margot123Margot123 Forumite
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    This chap sounds far from a dishonest or incompetent solicitor, so what do you hope to gain from all this?
  • JenniefourJenniefour Forumite
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    Margot123 wrote: »
    It is more than possible he doesn't remember anything about it.

    Possibly so, there's no particular reason why any professional should be expected to recall details of all the work they've done/clients they've worked with - which is why practising solicitors and many other professionals are obliged to keep sufficient accurate notes on their cases/work. Only the terminally stupid/grossly incompetent solicitor would fail to do so.

    Solicitors have approx. 100-150 cases per week ongoing. Over the years, they are only going to recall the most memorable of cases.

    They shouldn't have to recall anything - as above, they should be able to consult their own sufficient, reliable and accurate professional notes.

    The real problem here is that the solicitor is retired - and should have handed over all his 'live' cases. Provision should also have been made for cases like this to ensure there was no need whatsoever for any further future involvement after his retirement.
  • Voyager2002Voyager2002 Forumite
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    Margot123 wrote: »
    It is more than possible he doesn't remember anything about it.
    Solicitors have approx. 100-150 cases per week ongoing. Over the years, they are only going to recall the most memorable of cases.

    Yes, absolutely. His name and signature appear clearly on the trust deed and his name appears on the share certificate, so that clearly demonstrates that this is one of the many bits of work he did decades ago and has no need to remember. The fact that his response is to say that he does not remember it and suggest contacting former colleages is what makes me thing he may no longer be competent.
  • Voyager2002Voyager2002 Forumite
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    Margot123 wrote: »
    This chap sounds far from a dishonest or incompetent solicitor, so what do you hope to gain from all this?

    I think that Jenniefour's post (below) is an adequate response to your post. And yes: the SRA maintains funds to compensate the clients of dishonest and incompetent solicitors, but this case falls outside the guidelines of that scheme.
  • JenniefourJenniefour Forumite
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    Yes, absolutely. His name and signature appear clearly on the trust deed and his name appears on the share certificate, so that clearly demonstrates that this is one of the many bits of work he did decades ago and has no need to remember. The fact that his response is to say that he does not remember it and suggest contacting former colleages is what makes me thing he may no longer be competent.

    Alternatively, it might be that all his 'live' work was actually handed over as required on retirement, and his currently practising colleagues will be able to effect the correct action. I assume he did mean colleagues who are still practising - members of his old firm? I would imagine, if that's the case, and there might have been some sort of mess up concerning his retirement, that they may have some obligation to put this matter right, especially if it is, in effect, the same law firm. Worth an enquiry with them.
  • getmore4lessgetmore4less Forumite
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    You have the proof the beneficial interest of the trust lies with the kids.

    Simplest solution is wait till the legal owner(trustee) dies and their administrator can deal with transfer.

    Given the value and potential cost to get a transfer signed off I would just wait.
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