Beneficiary attend solicitors appointment?

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  • Mark2sparkMark2spark Forumite
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    To answer your actual question, it's quite possible to have a 'round table' meeting between parties so that a 'memorandum of understanding' can be reached and parties then proceed on the agreement reached.
    Normally it would be done by solicitors and their clients though. Not *you* versus solicitor and client. Unless you are legally up to speed on the intricacies.
  • Sunshine2468Sunshine2468 Forumite
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    Thank you everyone for taking the time to respond.  I could honestly sit here and cry!

    I just want honesty, so that I can finally be at peace with feeling like my fathers wishes have been recognised, and to know I’m not being lied to by my stepmom.  

    I was truly hoping, seemingly naively, that i could sit down with stepmom and her solicitor, listen to their reasons why they don’t think this is a ‘straightforward life trust’ so that I will know once and for all if there is a viable  alternative to my understanding (rather than right now, where I feel like it’s my stepmom’s wishful thinking).

      It probably makes no sense that I need to know this. As in terms of the financial outcome, I am happy if between us we reach the 50/50 split that my stepmom says she is agreeable to, but I feel like I need peace to know what my dads last words were - I guess I might have to accept the ambiguity of it all and accept there are two versions of the truth -and even if there are two versions, I guess  that way I would finally know if my stepmom is being truthful so that we can maintain our relationship, which I feel has been damaged by her unwillingness to talk openly with me - I would not have done this had things been the other way around. 

    From what everyone seems to be saying, that this is too simplistic and not likely.  I just feel if I actually employ the solicitor that I’ve shown the will to, I will have to challenge them rather than just agreeing amicably between the two of us and sorting it together, without a ‘them and us’ confrontation. 

    I can’t bear this idea, and therefore it feels as though I just have to let my stepmom do what she likes, hope she stands by her promises and actions things and all the while I’ll feel like I’ve let my dad down by not sorting it properly, or truly knowing if my stepmom has been honest 😢




  • BooJewelsBooJewels Forumite
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    I wish you luck @Sunshine2468 - I read this forum enough to have an appreciation of how complicated family matters are, especially in respect of wills and bereavement.  Enough so to be grateful that my own family are on good terms, sensible and that the estates I've executed recently have been conflict-free and have been fulfilled entirely to the wishes of the deceased - not only to the written letter, but in the spirit too - and perhaps a bit more besides.

    Don't think for one minute that you've let your Dad down (I'm a fine one to talk, I've done the whole guilt thing myself - I apologise to him and Mum daily, as I put another of their 'treasures' I just can't keep in a bin bag).  I think the fact that you want to fulfil his wishes and yet things to remain civil to his wife, when the situation is being made very difficult for you, is doing him proud.  It would be way easier to look after your own interests and not care what she thought or felt - and many would take this line to serve their own ends.

    I have a similar issue with my MIL - since my husband died, the family dynamic changed with indecent haste and I made promises to my husband that she's not going to allow me to keep.  So there's a whole load of more guilt right there.
  • Savvy_SueSavvy_Sue Forumite
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    You say you've shown the will to another solicitor: was this in a free half hour appointment, or have you engaged them, ie paid them for some advice? 

    It just seems possible to me that if you took 'proper' advice - the kind you paid for - and showed them anything you've received from your stepmother's solicitor, you might find that your solicitor actually agrees with her solicitor. In a half hour appointment, at the end of which nothing goes in writing, a solicitor may not be able to take on board the full implications of a dispute. 

    You would not then be obliged to do anything further, unless you wanted to. As BooJewels says, wanting to remain civil to his wife is surely something your father would value above enforcing your rights. 
    Signature removed for peace of mind
  • getmore4lessgetmore4less Forumite
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    Thought i posted.

    There is an issue that the two interpretations of the will  have different tax outcomes if going to 50:50 with life interest.

    You need to have a proper out come of the interpretation of the will to move forward even if you agree on the outcome because it could determine how you achieve the goal.
  • MarconMarcon Forumite
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    Thank you everyone for taking the time to respond.  I could honestly sit here and cry!

    I just want honesty, so that I can finally be at peace with feeling like my fathers wishes have been recognised, and to know I’m not being lied to by my stepmom.  

    I was truly hoping, seemingly naively, that i could sit down with stepmom and her solicitor, listen to their reasons why they don’t think this is a ‘straightforward life trust’ so that I will know once and for all if there is a viable  alternative to my understanding (rather than right now, where I feel like it’s my stepmom’s wishful thinking).



    I think you'll find what you already know, in your heart: that your stepmom isn't telling the truth. There is no evidence that she has asked a solicitor to comment; just that she has used one to deal with the title deeds.

    Nothing you do can change the fact that she seems to have been less than open, but you can try to change your own reaction to events. Recognise that she has lost her beloved partner in the same way you have lost your beloved father - and also recognise that grief changes people, especially if they are anxious about losing control of their home, or their finances, or something - anything - else at such a difficult time.

    Get your solicitor to write to you, confirming in plain English what the will means, and then sit down with your stepmom and show her the letter, making it clear as you do so that you would be very happy with formally documenting the 50:50 split she has said she is happy with. Don't challenge her or what she claims her solicitor said - simply let her see what a qualified legal professional has to say. Then it's over to her. 
  • Sunshine2468Sunshine2468 Forumite
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    Thank you so much for al of your very thoughtful and considered replies, they have helped me more than you know.

    So my DH arranged for stepmom to come to dinner to discuss  things yesterday.  Whilst we didn’t actually talk about things, she did give me a form to complete to transfer my dads shares to myself & the identification etc that was required was witnessed, verified and returned to her today so that she could get that sorted.  

     I didn’t mention the house/deeds, but I did ask about the residuary estate (I asked if she needed my bank details to transfer the money).  She actually today told me the sum I was to expect and that it would be sorted now.  

    Whilst I didn’t know beforehand about what was happening with my dads property, he had told me about the money he had saved for me & I am hoping that if we can get that resolved, I will find my peace in the fact that the one wish  I know as fact (from my dads own mouth) has at least come to fruition.  It’s also made me feel more settled about my stepmom in the sense that she will have followed that part of the will to the letter.

    Thank you, Savvy_Sue,  as that has put my telephone conversation, (unpaid with a recommended solicitor), into perspective, that perhaps if I had paid advice in writing that it might differ, I hadn’t even considered that as she had been so clear about her interpretation on the phone. 

    Boojewels/ Macron, thank you both for helping me clarify what I know to be true about my stepmom - from her perspective I can clearly see that she is very much missing my dad, he was her life & to be concerned about her home and future is totally understandable.  

    In life she takes forever to do things and keeps her thoughts and feeling close to her chest, so I shouldn’t be at all surprised that this has happened now.  I guess I interpreted the ‘burying her head in the sand’ as deceitful, just because I am very open about things and ‘rip the plaster off’ to deal with things as soon as I can - I would of done things very differently, but equally you have helped me see what I should of recognised before, as her grief and personality, not as her trying to hide things from me. 

    I’m hoping the residuary estate will be resolved very shortly, and that this will give me the peace and closure I need to feeling like my dads will has been honoured, at least in the part that he found important enough to tell me about. 

    Whether I can let the property matter rest totally, I hope with the rest sorted I can.  I have a feeling she might go back to burying her head in the sand about sorting that out, but I’ve decided to not mention it again now - if she is not ready to sort the house, then as it stands it’s in my dads sole name, so I guess if something happens to her in the meantime we would have to revert to dads will to sort it out? At that point I can sort half to her children, as I’ve never felt I should have the lot anyway - it’s never felt the right thing to do. 

    Two final things - 1) a while ago I registered to be notified if there was any change to the title deeds of the house - does that stay on indefinitely? (I’m just thinking if she doesn’t sort this for a long time, can I have the peace of mind to know I will definitely hear if she does do something without informing me? )
    2) I’m assuming I will have to sign something when I receive the residuary funds? - assuming she gives me those before she even starts sorting the house, does me signing to say I’ve received  the residuary funds in anyway mean my I’m signing to say I waive my rights to the house and the ornaments etc in the house? (The will also leaves ornaments to me, but I’ve agreed not to take any of them now as they are a big part of the decor of the house, and I have said I am happy for stepmom just to let me have them if she decides she no longer wants them around if she redecorates at any point). 

    Anyway, once again sorry for the long post - I know it probably reads as though I’m going around in circles, but honestly your responses have truly helped me move on emotionally in all of this and have really helped me see that I’m not letting my dad down in this. That has always been at the heart of my stress, and I’m hoping we can all find peace without any fallings out, as that is so very important to me, and I’m sure would of been to my dad too  👍
  • edited 26 January at 9:29AM
    BooJewelsBooJewels Forumite
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    edited 26 January at 9:29AM
    I'm delighted that you've been able to get some emotional peace from the situation - these situations can get very complicated and all-consuming.  Someone once said to me, that you can't do anything about how other people treat you or how they behave, but you can control how you react and respond to it.  It sounds like you've settled on a way to cope with the situation that brings you some peace. 

    It can be quite a moment of epiphany when we just decide to accept something and put concerns aside - even if it's just modifying the thought process in your own head and deciding to react differently.  Also true - I know it is for me - is that it's often the anticipation of things going awry that causes us distress, long before anything has actually done so. 

    I also think that people respond to things like grief in different ways - sometimes strange and unfathomable ways (maybe everybody else thinks I'm behaving strangely, who knows).  I have 2 elderly family members left and they've both proven to be difficult recently after different family bereavements - each totally different, but problematic to others and in ways that aren't quite what you'd expect.  Perhaps some of it turns to anger and gets inappropriately directed.  Sometimes just letting it wash over you without causing upset is the best you can do until they get it out of their system.

    And as I said before - you're really not letting your Dad down in any way - on the contrary!
  • edited 26 January at 12:05PM
    MalthusianMalthusian Forumite
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    edited 26 January at 12:05PM
    Whether I can let the property matter rest totally, I hope with the rest sorted I can. I have a feeling she might go back to burying her head in the sand about sorting that out, but I’ve decided to not mention it again now - if she is not ready to sort the house, then as it stands it’s in my dads sole name, so I guess if something happens to her in the meantime we would have to revert to dads will to sort it out? At that point I can sort half to her children, as I’ve never felt I should have the lot anyway - it’s never felt the right thing to do.
    The danger in that scenario is that her children are going to notice the same thing that their mother (and her solicitor) did - that the Will is ambiguous over whether the property is hers "absolutely" or whether she has a life interest only, with the property reverting to you on death. So if the ownership of the property is not resolved by the time of her death, you could easily have to have the same argument with them. They might agree to the same compromise of half absolutely (i.e. theirs) and half life interest (i.e. yours) or they might not.
    It would be far more desirable for all of you to sort it out now.
    As the stepmother gets to live in the house until death either way, she can afford to bury her head in the sand. If no action is taken to resolve the ownership of the property, it's you and your stepsiblings who have your heads buried in the sand while the future dispute on her death gradually creeps towards you. (Unless the stepmother tries to sell the house or otherwise exercise a right to it beyond her right to live there.)
    Are you on good terms with your stepsiblings? They have the most to lose from the position not being resolved, as if the ambiguity of the Will is still unresolved on her death, yours is the stronger position. So it might help if they were aware of the situation and able to tactfully encourage their mother to sort out her duties as executor (or hand them to a solicitor).

    2) I’m assuming I will have to sign something when I receive the residuary funds?
    As I understand it, it is unambiguous that the residuary estate has been left to you. So the answer is no. The executor should just hand it over. But it is reasonable for an executor to ask the beneficiary to confirm receipt (especially when another part of the estate is in dispute) so that there can be no ambiguity later.
    - assuming she gives me those before she even starts sorting the house, does me signing to say I’ve received  the residuary funds in anyway mean my I’m signing to say I waive my rights to the house and the ornaments etc in the house?
    Definitely not. You have a solicitor to represent you in the varying of the Will in regard to the property, so if you are asked to sign anything, run it past them if you are in any doubt.
    (The will also leaves ornaments to me, but I’ve agreed not to take any of them now as they are a big part of the decor of the house, and I have said I am happy for stepmom just to let me have them if she decides she no longer wants them around if she redecorates at any point).
    In which case I would write them off and treat it as a nice surprise if they eventually come to you on her death or earlier. If a few years from now she lobbed them in a skip (or she went into care and her attorneys innocently cleared the house without realising the ornaments belonged to someone else) then practically speaking there would be little you could do about it. Unless they are extremely valuable and worth more legal action over.
    A loan of items of sentimental value only is effectively a gift as there is zero legal recourse if the items aren't handed back. If the items are later gifted back to you then happy days.

  • MalthusianMalthusian Forumite
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    There is an issue that the two interpretations of the will  have different tax outcomes if going to 50:50 with life interest.
    I'm not sure they do. Whether she inherits the property absolutely, as a life interest or 50% of each, either way there is no inheritance tax on the father's death (spousal exemption) and the property forms part of the stepmother's estate on hers.
    Stepchildren are included as "direct descendants" under the residential nil rate band rules so I don't think there's makes any difference there whether the property goes to the OP or their stepsiblings on the stepmother's death.
    Even if there was a difference, it's not one the OP needs to worry about. It doesn't make sense for any of the potential beneficiaries to give up a share because it increases the stepmother's Inheritance Tax bill. Something of something is better than nothing.
    We don't know whether the estate is large enough for there to be an Inheritance Tax issue anyway. Even if there was, the stepmother's estate would be liable and it would only affect the OP's share if there was not enough money in her residuary estate.
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