Numerous errors by solicitors who are trustees of a discretionary trust

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chrisa_3chrisa_3 Forumite
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My mother died in 2020. She had a property in trust as well as bank accounts which were not. On collection of the will the solicitor advised that as executor I could close and distribute her assets under the small estate rules. This I did. The flat she owned was leasehold and 3 months after her death the solicitors contacted me to say  because of that the property was in her name with the proceeds from the sale being paid into the trust so probate had to be applied for. Although they would do so on my behalf they were not able to say when and because £700 per month was being paid out and I had all the figures to hand about her accounts I applied.
I was very worried at this point that I had given wrong information to banks but was told by solicitor that they were after bigger fish than me. This proved to be the tip of the iceberg!
When my mother first bought her flat I lent her some money as the sale of her previous property had not been completed. I received a letter after I had an offer on the property to say that my name was on the deeds as I had lent money to the trust and how much was owed to me!  In hindsight I probably could have said anything but said I didn't know and asked them to check. The information was found in ledgers in their vault and showed I was repaid. However there was an error in their accounts only by just over £50 but every year my mother had been charged approximately £400 for checking the accounts and this had not been spotted. Also the money £90000 lent was recorded as being from my husband but repaid to me.
By now I am looking more carefully and find that the money in the trust had not been invested but was in the client account and although interest rates are not good was earning nothing.
My parents chose these solicitors as they thought they could rely on their expertise but unfortunately this has been lacking. I spoke to them 3 months ago and although admitting that I was justified to be dissatisfied they have yet to get back to me. Any advice gratefully received.

Replies

  • Savvy_SueSavvy_Sue Forumite
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    Raise a formal complaint, they will have details on how to do this if you say that's what you wish to do.

    BUT

    are you actually their client?
    Signature removed for peace of mind
  • Keep_pedallingKeep_pedalling Forumite
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    Putting your own home in a discretionary trust is rarely a good idea, and needs very careful winding up. Unless she was paying the trust market rent since she put it in trust it still forms part of her estate for IHT purposes and I doubt very much whether her estate should have been wound up without need to go down the IHT 400 route. 

    Discretionary trusts are subject to some pretty hefty tax burdens and if you get it wrong you could find yourself in trouble with HMRC. Apart from you complaint against her solicitors you need to check that you have not accidentally run fowl of HMRC on the estate returns. I suggest you take professional advice from a STEP solicitor who specialises in trusts. 

    PS. This really should be on the depths, funerals and probate board.
  • NorthYorkieNorthYorkie Forumite
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    Savvy_Sue said:
    Raise a formal complaint, they will have details on how to do this if you say that's what you wish to do.

    BUT

    are you actually their client?
    The questioner seems to have been the executor of the estate and so would have been a client of the firm. Certainly she should lodge a formal compaint.
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