Executor/beneficiary has ignored will

Last week I found out I was listed as a beneficary on my Nan’s will, she died 7 years ago. I was never aware that I was named on the will, however after gaining a copy from gov.uk I found that I was and should have received 1/4 equal share of my Nan’s estate. 

My aunty was an Executor and Benefiary, she has since mortgaged the house (which was previously unmortgaged) and the house is now in her name. So the estate hasn’t been split equally as per the will. The estate was to be split equally 4 ways between my Aunty, 2 cousins and me. 

Probate was granted a year after her death. However I have had no contact from her since then, and as such haven’t received my share of my Nan’s estate. The estate included 1 property and any money left over from pensions etc. after any debts and funeral costs (it was a residuary gift).

I asked my Dad for more information and he said my Nan verbally told my Dad and Aunty they should split everything two ways between them both. However the will couldn’t be updated as she had dementia.

My aunty then ignored these verbal wishes, and went against the will. I do believe my 2 cousins were given something from the leftover cash my Nan had - however nowhere near the value of 1/4 of the estate as the house was not sold.

I want to make a claim for my 1/4 share as it was my Nan’s wishes prior to getting dementia. I was thinking of using my legal expenses cover through my home insurance. I’m yet to attempt to reach out to my Aunty as I believe she will make excuses for not giving me my share, so legal action is likely the only way.

My questions are:

  • Am I going about this the correct way?
  • Is making a claim on the estate even possible, given the time passed?
  • My aunty has likely spent any money left over from my Nan’s bank accounts, and mortgaged the property. If I make a claim how would I be paid if this is the case?

Many thanks if anyone is able to help at all, very new to Will’s and the legal world!

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Comments

  • Keep_pedalling
    Keep_pedalling Posts: 16,544 Forumite
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    edited 31 July 2023 at 9:01AM
    I would not mess about dealing with her and go straight to taking legal advice. She is obviously dishonest and needs to be dealt with. 

    Apart from illegally taking ownership of the house, it appears she may have committed mortgage fraud by using it to secure a mortgage. 
  • jlfrs01
    jlfrs01 Posts: 279 Forumite
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    I agree with keep_pedalling, you need to speak with a Probate Lawyer immediately. An Executor has a legal duty to comply with the instructions laid out in a Will. The only people who can alter the Will are the benficiaries via a Deed of Variation and all have to agree.
    As it stands, an Executor who ignores the Will is personally liable and in this case it seems certain your Aunt is very likely to end up in Probate Court unless she can give you and the other Beneficiaries the monies owed to you.
  • Sea_Shell
    Sea_Shell Posts: 9,336 Forumite
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    So your Dad was never a beneficiary under the will?   And never even received half under the "verbal" agreement either?

    Did he not pursue things?

    What's prompted you to look into this now?

    Sounds like the legal route may be your only option. ☹️
    How's it going, AKA, Nutwatch? - 12 month spends to date = 2.31% of current retirement "pot" (as at end March 2024)
  • Thanks all, I’ve reached out for legal advice and hoping to start some discussions this afternoon.

    Didn’t even think about the possibility of mortgage fraud, I find the whole thing so shocking!

    No my dad wasn’t a beneficiary, there also wasn’t any formal verbal agreement. It’s just something she said before she passed away. I think my Aunty may somehow be using that as an excuse for not following through with the will. He told me he tried contacting her before probate but my Aunty just ignored him at the time. 

    I only looked into this now by chance, when talking about it with my Mum. In order to get a copy of the will I had to find out a lot of extra info (middle names, dates of death, probate etc) that I didn’t have to hand. So its taken a lot of investigating to get to this point!
  • Sea_Shell
    Sea_Shell Posts: 9,336 Forumite
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    Good luck.   Shame it's come to this. ☹️

    Keep us posted.   Fingers crossed you get a resolution.
    How's it going, AKA, Nutwatch? - 12 month spends to date = 2.31% of current retirement "pot" (as at end March 2024)
  • Sea_Shell
    Sea_Shell Posts: 9,336 Forumite
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    edited 31 July 2023 at 1:14PM
    Giving this some more thought...

    How was she allowed (able) to put the property in her sole name, if probate showed that the estate was to be split 4 ways?

    Are there no checks and balances at Land Registry's end?

    @Land_Registry can you assist?   How does it all work?

    OP, have you checked on LR to see what it says.  You can get a copy for £3 I believe.
    How's it going, AKA, Nutwatch? - 12 month spends to date = 2.31% of current retirement "pot" (as at end March 2024)
  • Jay199555
    Jay199555 Posts: 6 Forumite
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    Sea_Shell said:
    Giving this some more thought...

    How was she allowed (able) to put the property in her sole name, if probate showed that the estate was to be split 4 ways?

    Are there no checks and balances at Land Registry's end?

    @Land_Registry can you assist?   How does it all work?

    OP, have you checked on LR to see what it says.  You can get a copy for £3 I believe.
    That’s what I’m struggling to understand. There is wording in the will that says the executors will hold the estate upon trust to distribute to beneficiaries and it says my cousins and I must be over 21 to recieve anything, which we all were after her death. So I’m wondering if she used either of these as an excuse.
    Either way I’m hoping I’ll know for sure once a solicitor has taken a look over the will.
  • Keep_pedalling
    Keep_pedalling Posts: 16,544 Forumite
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    edited 31 July 2023 at 1:53PM
    Sea_Shell said:
    Giving this some more thought...

    How was she allowed (able) to put the property in her sole name, if probate showed that the estate was to be split 4 ways?

    Are there no checks and balances at Land Registry's end?

    @Land_Registry can you assist?   How does it all work?

    OP, have you checked on LR to see what it says.  You can get a copy for £3 I believe.
    The certificate of probate would have given her the authority to dispose of, or transfer of the property and the LR have no visibility of the will and even if they did they would not know if one of the beneficiaries had bought out the others or know what happened to the proceeds of any sale.

    The LR forms clearly state that she would be committing fraud in doing what she did but they don’t police this.

    WARNING

    If you dishonestly enter information or make a statement that you know is, or might be, untrue or misleading, and intend by doing so to make a gain for yourself or another person, or to cause loss or the risk of loss to another person, you may commit the offence of fraud under section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006, the maximum penalty for which is 10 years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine, or both.

  • Jay199555
    Jay199555 Posts: 6 Forumite
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    Forgot to add - yes I’ve purchased a copy of the deeds and it does state her & her husband own the property.
  • Keep_pedalling
    Keep_pedalling Posts: 16,544 Forumite
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    Jay199555 said:
    Forgot to add - yes I’ve purchased a copy of the deeds and it does state her & her husband own the property.
    At least she did not just sell the property and spend the proceeds, so there is a physical asset you can claim. Unless she has other assets that she could make an out of court settlement with she is in a heap of trouble.
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