Beneficiary attend solicitors appointment?

Hello,

So I’ve started a new thread as my old one was a while ago, but the situation with my fathers will is still rumbling on! As a reminder, My stepmom (the sole executor) and myself (the sole beneficiary in terms of his residual estate), don’t agree on the wording of the will at all. 

So my stepmom told me in December that her solicitor has said that the property is totally hers, but we’ve agreed that half should be mine upon her death. (If you recall from my original post, the solicitor I spoke to told me that the will was a ‘straight forward life trust’ and the property would come to me).

In terms of the ultimate conclusion of things, I actually believe that the fairest thing is for my stepmom to have half of the house to leave to her children/whomever she chooses, but for my peace of mind I need clarity on why her solicitors don’t read the will in the same way. And I need to know that my interest is fully protected. 

I’ve said to my DH that I want to ask her to attend the solicitors with her when she sorts the deeds out. 

In my head, if she is truthful in wanting the same outcome as me, then we can sort it together and I can have my explanation from her solicitors why they think the will says something else, then it can be sorted in one go - be that with me having clarity of the other point of view - as I feel sure that my stepmom is choosing to ignore the whole sentence of the will talking about what happens ‘upon her death’ - but if it is as I believe, then a DofV will need completing, presumably needing my signature to override the will and split the property between us. 

My DH doesn’t think the solicitor will talk to me if I attend with her, but is that the case? If my stepmom agrees for me to attend with her (a big if!) then surely in the interests of transparency and getting this resolved once and for all, then isn’t that the best and quickest way? Or am I being naive? 

Sorry for the long winded post, I can’t explain it - it’s not about the property in as much as I need to know that my fathers wishes have been acknowledged. I am all for transparency and communication, but sadly my stepmom isn’t open with me unless I bring things up and then it feels like she is trying to keep me in the dark. 

For the sake of our relationship going forward I just need this clarity and honesty & peace of mind to know it’s been done correctly following my dads wishes. 
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Replies

  • MovingForwardsMovingForwards Forumite
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    Other thread, I've not read it all.
    https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6285757/question-regarding-the-wording-of-a-will#latest

    Reads to me like she has a life interest and then on her death it passed to you.

    Has her solicitor said what they think the will says and what has your solicitor suggested in response to that?
  • edited 15 January at 4:19PM
    MarconMarcon Forumite
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    edited 15 January at 4:19PM
    Hello,

    So I’ve started a new thread as my old one was a while ago, but the situation with my fathers will is still rumbling on! As a reminder, My stepmom (the sole executor) and myself (the sole beneficiary in terms of his residual estate), don’t agree on the wording of the will at all. 

    So my stepmom told me in December that her solicitor has said that the property is totally hers, but we’ve agreed that half should be mine upon her death. (If you recall from my original post, the solicitor I spoke to told me that the will was a ‘straight forward life trust’ and the property would come to me).

    In terms of the ultimate conclusion of things, I actually believe that the fairest thing is for my stepmom to have half of the house to leave to her children/whomever she chooses, but for my peace of mind I need clarity on why her solicitors don’t read the will in the same way. And I need to know that my interest is fully protected. 

    I’ve said to my DH that I want to ask her to attend the solicitors with her when she sorts the deeds out. 

    In my head, if she is truthful in wanting the same outcome as me, then we can sort it together and I can have my explanation from her solicitors why they think the will says something else, then it can be sorted in one go - be that with me having clarity of the other point of view - as I feel sure that my stepmom is choosing to ignore the whole sentence of the will talking about what happens ‘upon her death’ - but if it is as I believe, then a DofV will need completing, presumably needing my signature to override the will and split the property between us. 

    My DH doesn’t think the solicitor will talk to me if I attend with her, but is that the case? If my stepmom agrees for me to attend with her (a big if!) then surely in the interests of transparency and getting this resolved once and for all, then isn’t that the best and quickest way? Or am I being naive? 

    Sorry for the long winded post, I can’t explain it - it’s not about the property in as much as I need to know that my fathers wishes have been acknowledged. I am all for transparency and communication, but sadly my stepmom isn’t open with me unless I bring things up and then it feels like she is trying to keep me in the dark. 

    For the sake of our relationship going forward I just need this clarity and honesty & peace of mind to know it’s been done correctly following my dads wishes. 
    Without seeing the precise wording of the will, it's impossible to help, so why not let your solicitor contact your stepmother's solicitor? The thoughts and opinions of people here won't, in any case, have any impact on what your stepmother and her solicitor think, so that seems the only practicable way forward.
  • edited 15 January at 6:50PM
    Sunshine2468Sunshine2468 Forumite
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    edited 15 January at 6:50PM
    Thank you both for replying. 

    So in terms of the will, the exact wording is - ‘I give, devise and bequeath my freehold property known as (address), together with the remainder of all my personal chattels (as defined in section 55(1)(x) of the Administration of Estates Act 1925) to my said wife (her name) for her respective use and benefit absolutely and upon her death to hold upon the same upon the trusts hereinafter declared concerning my residuary estate. (Then in goes on to name myself as the sole beneficiary of the residuary estate)’. 

    My question isn’t about what you guys think this means - just whether my idea of going to the solicitor with my stepmother and sorting this together once and for all is possible, or if I have to employ my own solicitor - what I don’t want is a ‘them and us’ situation, if at all possible I want this resolved together transparently and amicably. 👍

    I don’t actually know what her solicitor has said, other than my step mother saying a month ago, ‘my solicitor agrees that the property is all mine’, she then went on to say she is willing for me to be left my fathers half. But then she hasn’t done anymore since as far as I can tell. I certainly haven’t had my monies due yet or the final accounts. 

    Btw if it makes a difference - my stepmother has actioned the will herself as sole executor, this solicitor is someone she has contacted with a view to just sort the title deeds. They are not involved in the estate as such. 
  • MarconMarcon Forumite
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    Thank you both for replying. 

    So in terms of the will, the exact wording is - ‘I give, devise and bequeath my freehold property known as (address), together with the remainder of all my personal chattels (as defined in section 55(1)(x) of the Administration of Estates Act 1925) to my said wife (her name) for her respective use and benefit absolutely and upon her death to hold upon the same upon the trusts hereinafter declared concerning my residuary estate. (Then in goes on to name myself as the sole beneficiary of the residuary estate)’. 

    My question isn’t about what you guys think this means - just whether my idea of going to the solicitor with my stepmother and sorting this together once and for all is possible, or if I have to employ my own solicitor - what I don’t want is a ‘them and us’ situation, if at all possible I want this resolved together transparently and amicably. 👍

    I don’t actually know what her solicitor has said, other than my step mother saying a month ago, ‘my solicitor agrees that the property is all mine’, she then went on to say she is willing for me to be left my fathers half. But then she hasn’t done anymore since as far as I can tell. I certainly haven’t had my monies due yet or the final accounts. 

    Btw if it makes a difference - my stepmother has actioned the will herself as sole executor, this solicitor is someone she has contacted with a view to just sort the title deeds. They are not involved in the estate as such. 
    You certainly can't insist on going to the solicitor with your stepmother and frankly it sounds as if she's making things up as she goes along. Your idea of working together amicably and transparently is admirable but I think unrealistic.

    I"d get your solicitor to drop her a line, and copy in her solicitor. Make it clear that you'd like the approach to be friendly and enquiring, rather than anything too 'determined' or pushy at this stage.
  • MandsMands Forumite
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    I certainly haven’t had my monies due yet or the final accounts. 


    In your other thread you said your father died in October.  So 3-ish months ago?  To finalise the estate within that timescale would be extraordinarily fast.  

    People talk about the executors year which gives you a sense of how long might be reasonable to do the work needed.  
  • SpendlessSpendless Forumite
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    Shouldn't your step-moms solicitor communicate with your solicitor that 'the property is all hers' rather than you just hearing this from your step mom verbally?

    As an aside 2 solicitors may not agree on wording. Years ago my Mum had a commercial tenancy for the hairdressing shop she ran, part of a house. When the owners decided they wanted to sell without the shop in place, their solicitors said they could just end Mum's tenancy. Mum's solicitor argued they couldn't  and Mum could either continue the tenancy or sell her business on and the new owners could continue to trade from the same place because the house had been originally built as both a business and living accommodation (initially a live in post office) for the people who originally bought it so no such agreement existed. Eventually the owners bought Mum out of her agreement. I'm mentioning this purely so you can see that sometimes solicitors have to 'agree to disagree' 
  • BooJewelsBooJewels Forumite
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    @Spendless said:
    As an aside 2 solicitors may not agree on wording.
    I've had a recent experience where 2 solicitors differ completely on their attitude towards how they deal with the same matter. 

    We set up an LPA for a family member a few years ago - her solicitor at that time was open to email discussions around it with us and kept us informed throughout - all done very discreetly and with no loss of confidentiality - and all done in the interest of doing the best for the Donor.  She seemingly left the practice and when the Donor wanted to make changes to her Will and LPA after her Executor who was also one of her Attorneys died, her replacement sent me a curt one line email with no salutations saying she could only discuss it with her client.  I replied asking her to confirm one important fact (about myself, so no breach in confidentiality) and I got a read receipt saying that my message had been deleted un-read.  Whilst I can understand that has some merit, it also hasn't helped her client either.

    So I think the OP's situation will depend a great deal on the attitude of the individual solicitors and whether the stepmother allows her to get involved.  A few choice words from her might shut that door completely.  
  • doodlingdoodling Forumite
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    Hi,

    To answer your question, there is no point in attending a meeting with your Stepmother's solicitor unless you are either entirely in agreement with your Stepmother or you wish to argue points of law with her solicitor.

    If you are not in agreement with your Stepmother then her solicitor cannot offer you any useful advice other than "get your own legal representation" - it would be a conflict of interest for them to advise both of you in different ways. It would be also unprofessional of them to say anything in your presence that was not 100% supportive of your Stepmother. You will probably also want a written  position from your Stepmother's solicitor so that you can review it with your own legal representation if you wish - attending a meeting won't get you that.

    I would not advise that you, as a lay person, attempt to argue points of law with a solicitor.

    The only way you will get this resolved is to formally address this in an adversarial manner between your Stepmother's solicitor and you (or your own solicitor). Note that by adversarial I do not mean aggressive or demanding, simply that you are putting forward an alternative point of view.

    It sounds like there is a compromise to be had so this shouldn't be too much of a challenge but I would advise that you employ your own solicitor, both to support you in making an agreement and to advise you when you come to sign that agreement.
  • MarconMarcon Forumite
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    Mands said:
    I certainly haven’t had my monies due yet or the final accounts. 


    In your other thread you said your father died in October.  So 3-ish months ago?  To finalise the estate within that timescale would be extraordinarily fast.  

    People talk about the executors year which gives you a sense of how long might be reasonable to do the work needed.  
    October 2020, not last October.
  • MarconMarcon Forumite
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    doodling said:


    The only way you will get this resolved is to formally address this in an adversarial manner between your Stepmother's solicitor and you (or your own solicitor). Note that by adversarial I do not mean aggressive or demanding, simply that you are putting forward an alternative point of view.

    It sounds like there is a compromise to be had so this shouldn't be too much of a challenge but I would advise that you employ your own solicitor, both to support you in making an agreement and to advise you when you come to sign that agreement.
    There's another way: mediation, but that would need to be done by a mediator, not a solicitor acting for either OP or stepmother.

    There is no evidence that the stepmother's solicitor has actually said any of the things she claims they have said, not least because the solicitor has only been engaged to 'sort out the title deeds'. Quite possibly a letter from OP's solicitor, clearly setting out the legal position, will be enough to clarify matters.
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