Executor is asking for indemnity form to be signed before making interim payment.

I am a beneficiary of someone's estate and the executor, a solicitor, has written to me saying that he has now received all the funds into the the executor's account except the funds in one bank account which the bank has not yet transferred to him (despite them being notified of the death many months ago). The letter does not give  any reason for this delay but says that it expects it to be resolved shortly but nevertheless he intends to make an interim payment to me and the other principal beneficiary now, instead of waiting for the remaining funds. 

He has asked me, among other things, to sign an indemnity form which states'"I indemnify the Executor and [name of firm of solicitors] in respect of any further claims against the Estate up to the value of the assets received by me from the estate including any claims under in Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.'

Is this just a totally routine thing that I shouldn't worry about? I think it highly unlikely that any debts, and certainly not any significant ones, will surface as the deceased never borrowed money and didn't even have a credit card and always paid all bills quickly. The solicitor has already paid things such as the gas and electricity and I can't imagine there would be anything else. I did, however, conduct a search on the websites of the London Gazette and the Public Notices section of his local paper but could not find anything. I though that this had to be done, or it was highly recommended to be done.

Apart from debts, what about claims under the Inheritance Act? I thought that any such claims had to be made within 6 months of probate being granted, and it was granted more than 6 months ago.  Also, wouldn't the solicitor have professional indemnity insurance that would cover any losses of this nature? He has been paid several thousand pounds to administer the estate

Before we sign this any advice would be appreciated.

Comments

  • Linton
    Linton Posts: 17,024
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    edited 9 October 2023 at 11:39AM
    I don’t know about the exact wording of the indemnity but the general principle seems very reasonable. The solicitors are not obliged to provide you with an interim payment and in doing so are taking on a risk that unexpected large debts turn up for which they could be held financially responsible if there was insufficient money in the estate.  The risk may be very small but it exists. Even if a claim was invalid there would be costs in fighting.

     You are not losing out because if there was an unpaid  debt the courts could require it to be taken from your interim inheritance.

    I do not think the professional indemnity insurance argument has any merit. PI is meant to cover the costs of mistakes on their part.  It is not to cover the risk that you might lose some of your inheritance. If making an interim payment could be seen as a mistake then that is a mistake they would be well advised not to make.

    So I suggest you either provide the requested indemnity or turn down the offer of an interim payment.
  • Linton said:
    I don’t know about the exact wording of the indemnity but the general principle seems very reasonable. The solicitors are not obliged to provide you with an interim payment and in doing so are taking on a risk that unexpected large debts turn up for which they could be held financially responsible if there was insufficient money in the estate.  The risk may be very small but it exists. Even if a claim was invalid there would be costs in fighting.

     You are not losing out because if there was an unpaid  debt the courts could require it to be taken from your interim inheritance.

    I do not think the professional indemnity insurance argument has any merit. PI is meant to cover the costs of mistakes on their part.  It is not to cover the risk that you might lose some of your inheritance. If making an interim payment could be seen as a mistake then that is a mistake they would be well advised not to make.

    So I suggest you either provide the requested indemnity or turn down the offer of an interim payment.

    Fair enough, although if we didn't sign and so didn't accept the interim payment surely he would want us to sign a similar indemnity when the estate was finally settled in case creditors appeared after that. Anyway, I very much doubt whether any creditors, especially large ones, will now appear so it's all moot really. I do wonder why he didn't place a notice in the London Gazette and/or local paper though.
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