Refusing to show family deceased's will

A couple of weeks ago, one of our close family members passed away. He had been married for 40 years to his wife who died in 2021, and in the last 2 years has become "friendly" with another lady - who effectively has effectively run his life for him for the last 2 years.

He has never had a will, until (allegedly) around 6 months ago. Unfortunately, the lady he was close friends with has openly told the rest of the family "I'm his executor and sole beneficiary so I'm going to deal with all of the estate".

He has a house with no mortgage, sole owner, we believe has some cash in the bank (under £100k) and a car with no finance.

From everything we can find so far (without going to see a solicitor) there appear to be no  right for his brother (who is sole next-of-kin in law) to see the will, because until probate is granted there seems no legal mechanism to allow this to happen as only the executor has this right, which is what this lady is CLAIMING to be.

In fact, the deceased told his brother multiple times in the past that he wouldn't bother writing a will, because "you know where I want the money to go". i.e. his nieces and nephews (he has no children himself). Hindsight says he should have pushed him for a will, but he was a stubborn old mule bless him...

The problem -  we as a family have a lot of grave concerns over this lady. We don't actually know if a will exists - none of us have ever seen it, and we weren't told about it prior to his death.

This lady has been in his house for the last couple of weeks, including LESS THAN 24 hours after his death, and for all intents and purposes has probably taken anything of value in there already. She's been very sly and slippery with her replies to family about what's going on and the process for probate. We of course know the house can't be sold without it, so in time we will find of course find out what's going on, but she's being so secretive it's starting to ring alarm bells.

We are a trusting family but are at the end of our tether with the whole situation.

I think at this stage we have no choice but to engage a solicitor, but does anyone in the meantime have any advice to give?

Thanks
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Comments

  • If she is his sole executor then she is correct no one has a right to see the will until probate is granted when it becomes a public document. If you think fraud has taken place then you should consult a solicitor. 
  • doodling
    doodling Posts: 937
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    Hi,

    I agree you need legal advice.

    You may want to consider whether, in the absence of any evidence of a will existing (and the deceased's stated intent to not have a will) it would be appropriate for you to apply to Administer his apparently intestate estate.

    Suggesting that the lady provides some evidence of the existence of the will (a copy of it being the obvious evidence to provide) or you will take that action might prompt a more meaningful response from her.

    As I said at the start, I recommend professional legal advice before you do that.
  • cymruchris
    cymruchris Posts: 4,882
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    If the will has been written, signed, witnessed etc. then no matter your 'feelings' sadly I don't think you'll get far, but that doesn't stop you ensuring all was as it should have been when the will was prepared. You could place a caveat with the probate office to prevent probate being granted, and get your solicitor to send a 'Larke v Nugus' information request directly to the executor that will ask for information relating to how it was prepared, who by, notes taken etc. I was on the receiving end of one when my dad passed after he'd excluded my sister from his will. It delayed matters significantly, however probate was eventually granted, and she's still excluded (for good reason - but that's an aside). I'm aware she had to pay a significant fee for my dad's solicitor to provide her with the requested report, but the circumstances you're facing are a little different.



    I'd say get some proper legal advice to ensure you go down the right route.
    An ex-bankrupt on a journey of recovery. Feel free to send me a DM reference credit building credit cards from the usual suspects :) Happy to help others going through what I've been through!
  • p00hsticks
    p00hsticks Posts: 12,582
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    This lady has been in his house for the last couple of weeks, including LESS THAN 24 hours after his death, and for all intents and purposes has probably taken anything of value in there already. 
    Playing Devil's advocate, if the house is now empty following the death, it is generally good practise to remove any items of value from the house for safekeeping, as thieves can target properties of the recently deceased. 
  • Marcon
    Marcon Posts: 10,002
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    edited 8 December 2023 at 1:03AM
    A couple of weeks ago, one of our close family members passed away. He had been married for 40 years to his wife who died in 2021, and in the last 2 years has become "friendly" with another lady - who effectively has effectively run his life for him for the last 2 years.

    He has never had a will, until (allegedly) around 6 months ago. Unfortunately, the lady he was close friends with has openly told the rest of the family "I'm his executor and sole beneficiary so I'm going to deal with all of the estate".

    He has a house with no mortgage, sole owner, we believe has some cash in the bank (under £100k) and a car with no finance.

    From everything we can find so far (without going to see a solicitor) there appear to be no  right for his brother (who is sole next-of-kin in law) to see the will, because until probate is granted there seems no legal mechanism to allow this to happen as only the executor has this right, which is what this lady is CLAIMING to be.

    In fact, the deceased told his brother multiple times in the past that he wouldn't bother writing a will, because "you know where I want the money to go". i.e. his nieces and nephews (he has no children himself). Hindsight says he should have pushed him for a will, but he was a stubborn old mule bless him...

    The problem -  we as a family have a lot of grave concerns over this lady. We don't actually know if a will exists - none of us have ever seen it, and we weren't told about it prior to his death.

    This lady has been in his house for the last couple of weeks, including LESS THAN 24 hours after his death, and for all intents and purposes has probably taken anything of value in there already. She's been very sly and slippery with her replies to family about what's going on and the process for probate. We of course know the house can't be sold without it, so in time we will find of course find out what's going on, but she's being so secretive it's starting to ring alarm bells.

    We are a trusting family but are at the end of our tether with the whole situation.

    I think at this stage we have no choice but to engage a solicitor, but does anyone in the meantime have any advice to give?

    Thanks


    Maybe this lady (with who your brother appears to have been in a close relationship for two years, following the death of his wife after a long marriage) is being secretive because, rightly or wrongly, she feels you and other family members are ganging up on her at a time when all parties are grieving - and grief rarely improved anyone's behaviour. Certainly the tone of your post supports that possibility.

    Being realistic, what do you expect a solicitor to do? Until probate is granted, the executor is the only person entitled to see the will. However, if you seriously think there may not be a will, then it may be worth a discussion with a solicitor to see whether a letter indicating that a family member will be applying for letters of administration in the absence of etc etc would be an approach worth trying. She won't be able to apply if he did die intestate - unmarried partners are precluded from doing so.

    Do bear in mind though that what has been said in the past about not bothering to make a will could have changed with the advent of the new lady in his life - and keeping quiet about the change of circumstance (i.e. actually making a will) might have been his way of avoiding family criticism/discussion.


    Googling on your question might have been both quicker and easier, if you're only after simple facts rather than opinions!  
  • Keep_pedalling
    Keep_pedalling Posts: 16,209
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    Realistically there is little that can be done especially as he appears to have no direct descendants or dependant relatives.

    Fraud is actually very rare and very difficult to prove. It does sound like his friend gave him comfort and companionship for the last two years of his life after his wife died so it would not be unusual to leave your estate to the person you have relied on in hard times if you have no children to leave it to.

    She will be grieving for the loss of her friend, so perhaps the best approach is not to pester her about the will but to reach out and offer her support and help if she needs it.
  • km1500
    km1500 Posts: 2,120
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    edited 8 December 2023 at 8:48AM
    you need to start getting tough on this and not let it drift

    Apply for letters of administration using your belief that a will does not exist - in fact it sounds like the deceased explicitly told you he wasn't going to make one

    if a will exists they will be refused

    if a will does not exist you will get them

    also notify his bank, gvt agencies etc of his death ie start acting like an executor until proved otherwise. you want the bank account(s) frozen

    ask her to vacate the house - unless she is executor of a valid will she has no right to be there
  • Keep_pedalling
    Keep_pedalling Posts: 16,209
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    km1500 said:
    you could just apply for letters of administration using your belief that a will does not exist - in fact it sounds like the deceased explicitly told you he wasn't going to make one

    if a will exists they will be refused

    if a will does not exist you will get them

    also notify his bank, gvt agencies etc of his death ie start acting like an executor until proved otherwise
    I don’t think that is wise advice and might even be seen as fraudulent considering the OP has been told there is a will. 
  • Tiglet2
    Tiglet2 Posts: 2,459
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    @monkeysrevenge
    I can't add any additional information to that already posted above, but I just wanted to say how sorry I am that you're having this stress on top of grieving for your relative.

    Our family have had to deal with an almost identical scenario in that my aunt was being looked after in the last 5 years of her life by a neighbour.  My aunt didn't have any children and was widowed.  When she died (ripe old age of 99), we were given no information about the Will, except that the neighbour said it was all being dealt with.

    We are now aware that the aunt did write a Will naming the solicitor as the Executor.  Probate has been applied for, but not yet granted, but we've had correspondence from the solicitor which suggests that the nephews and nieces are getting small bequests and the remainder, including the house, goes to the neighbour.  The neighbour is 92 years old so, understandably, the family can see that the house will benefit the neighbour's children more than the neighbour eventually, which doesn't sit right with our family, but there is nothing we can do. The solicitor has stated that the aunt was of sound mind and it was her choice.

    Sorry, it wasn't a positive post, but you have a right to be wary.  I do wish we followed the French in that property has to pass to family only, but I guess there can be downsides to that as well.
  • km1500
    km1500 Posts: 2,120
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    the OP has not been 'told' there is a will - someone has claimed to have a will but has also refused to produce it - this is very suspicious and bizzare behaviour especially as he has also been explicitly told by the deceased there is no will.

    assuming the op wants to take on the role then the op is in fact the de facto executor and should apply for letters of administration. they should act as an executor in every way and the only way it can be stopped in its tracks is by someone producing a valid will which so far has not happened.
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