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    • userrobert
    • By userrobert 25th Sep 12, 1:06 PM
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    userrobert
    Solicitor refusing to communicate with executor
    • #1
    • 25th Sep 12, 1:06 PM
    Solicitor refusing to communicate with executor 25th Sep 12 at 1:06 PM
    I have a question which Iím hoping someone will know the answer too.

    I am the executor to my mumís will. Probate has been issued. My sister who Iíve always got on well with suddenly went to see a solicitor for advice. Since then she has asked her solicitor to not communicate with me. Every time I write to him regarding the estate he says his instructions are he is not to communicate with me direct on this matter, but only through a solicitor.

    Where do I stand here as I do not want or need to appoint a solicitor to represent the estate.

    Thanks,

    Robert
Page 1
    • TonyMMM
    • By TonyMMM 25th Sep 12, 1:59 PM
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    TonyMMM
    • #2
    • 25th Sep 12, 1:59 PM
    • #2
    • 25th Sep 12, 1:59 PM
    If probate has been issued and you are the executor, there must be more information .... You haven't explained why you are having to communicate with your sister's solicitor at all- is your sister challenging the will or your handling of the estate ?

    If so, on what grounds ?
    • thorsoak
    • By thorsoak 25th Sep 12, 2:01 PM
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    thorsoak
    • #3
    • 25th Sep 12, 2:01 PM
    • #3
    • 25th Sep 12, 2:01 PM
    If as executor, you are acting in accordance with your mother's wishes, and you are fulfilling the requirements of the Probate Office, there is no real reason for you to communicate with your sister's solicitor. If your sister wishes to raise objections to the will, then her solicitors should contact you with details of the objection.
    • userrobert
    • By userrobert 25th Sep 12, 3:17 PM
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    userrobert
    • #4
    • 25th Sep 12, 3:17 PM
    • #4
    • 25th Sep 12, 3:17 PM
    Thanks for you both replying to my question.

    I have undertaken virtually all the requirements as executor. It was at the point where my mum’s property (to which she owned 3/8th as the other 5/8th is in trust to my stepfather's children ) was being purchased by me at its full market value. It was all done legally and both my sister and the trustees were in agreement.

    Two weeks before the settlement date (after nine months of negotiating with all parties) I found my sister had seen a solicitor and refused to sign for the property to be sold. Since then I have answered all her solicitors questions regarding our mum’s estate. He now say his client doesn’t want him to communicate with me, but through a solicitor.

    Her solicitor has not told me his intentions even though I have asked.
    Last edited by userrobert; 25-09-2012 at 3:21 PM.
    • daska
    • By daska 25th Sep 12, 7:18 PM
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    daska
    • #5
    • 25th Sep 12, 7:18 PM
    • #5
    • 25th Sep 12, 7:18 PM
    I do not believe that she is entitled to insist that you use a solicitor to deal with the estate but it may be worth consulting one and I believe you would probably be able to claim the costs of that consult from the estate as a beneficiary is demanding it.

    Do you desperately want to buy your mother's house or was it just a sensible solution that allowed the estate to be wound up?

    Unless you are absolutely heaven bent on buying it I would write, formally, in your capacity as executor, to all the beneficiaries, explaining that you are not able to continue with executing the Will without running up legal costs due to your sister's demand. Give them the choice of paying for a solicitor to act as go-between or your resigning the role of executor and them applying to take over the role or paying for a solicitor to act as executor instead.
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    • Mojisola
    • By Mojisola 25th Sep 12, 8:20 PM
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    • #6
    • 25th Sep 12, 8:20 PM
    • #6
    • 25th Sep 12, 8:20 PM
    It may be worth taking advice because, depending on how the will is worded, your sister may not have any say in the sale of the house. There's a big difference between a share of the house being left to you and your sister and you, as executor, being instructed to sell the house and divide the proceeds.
    • userrobert
    • By userrobert 25th Sep 12, 8:22 PM
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    userrobert
    • #7
    • 25th Sep 12, 8:22 PM
    • #7
    • 25th Sep 12, 8:22 PM
    There are only two beneficiaries who are named in the will concerning the property. Unfortunately they are my sister and I. The rest of the property (5/8ths) is in trust to my stepfatherís grandchildren who do not want to get involved in any legal matters.

    I have written to my sisterís solicitor already stating I have no intentions of getting a solicitor to represent me in this matter. I also stated his client (my sister) should actually be grateful of this fact because if I was to appoint a solicitor to represent me, it would be paid out of the estate she is inheriting. His reply was Ö.

    As previously advised, my instructions are Iím not to communicate with you directly on this matter, but only through solicitors.

    I can only suggest that you instruct your own solicitors in this matter.

    Surely if Iím legally appointed as executor to the estate, he has a duty to communicate with me?
    • userrobert
    • By userrobert 25th Sep 12, 8:25 PM
    • 21 Posts
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    userrobert
    • #8
    • 25th Sep 12, 8:25 PM
    • #8
    • 25th Sep 12, 8:25 PM
    It may be worth taking advice because, depending on how the will is worded, your sister may not have any say in the sale of the house. There's a big difference between a share of the house being left to you and your sister and you, as executor, being instructed to sell the house and divide the proceeds.
    Originally posted by Mojisola
    Unfortunately I can't sell the property without this isssue being sorted because I'm using my part of the property as deposit with the bank.

    My view is my sister is intending to contest the will, although her solicitor has refused to answer any question concerning her intentions.
    • Mojisola
    • By Mojisola 25th Sep 12, 8:27 PM
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    Mojisola
    • #9
    • 25th Sep 12, 8:27 PM
    • #9
    • 25th Sep 12, 8:27 PM
    There are only two beneficiaries who are named in the will concerning the property. Unfortunately they are my sister and I. The rest of the property (5/8ths) is in trust to my stepfatherís grandchildren who do not want to get involved in any legal matters.
    Originally posted by userrobert
    If you want, you could post the exact wording of the relevant bit of the will - removing any names, addresses, etc.

    I don't see how the solicitor can insist on you having a solicitor. You are the executor.
    • daska
    • By daska 25th Sep 12, 8:52 PM
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    daska
    Unfortunately I can't sell the property without this isssue being sorted because I'm using my part of the property as deposit with the bank.
    Originally posted by userrobert
    Sorry, can you clarify? Are you saying that you are determined to buy the house although there is no legal requirement for you to do this? Or that the will stipulates that you must buy the remainder of the beneficiaries out of the house?

    If you are determined to buy the house yourself, come what may, then I'm afraid I think it likely that you'll just have to kowtow to her demands. BUT as I said before I believe you would be able to claim the costs of that from the estate - and that would potentially affect ALL the beneficiaries because if the only asset that falls within the estate is the property then the property will need to be sold to pay the costs or they will need to reimburse the estate before the remainder is distributed.


    I don't see how the solicitor can insist on you having a solicitor. You are the executor.
    Originally posted by Mojisola
    He can't, but at the same time he is obliged to follow his client's instructions. If the client has told him that he may only respond to another solicitor then he must respond to that effect.

    Having said that OP, I suggest you continue writing on a frequent basis, as she will be having to pay for him to write any/all of his responses saying that he isn't allowed to respond, as well as the letters he sends her to tell her you've sent/ requested information. Probably @ £12 a pop. Is she made of money? Send him info and requests in dribs and drabs.

    Edited to add that a thought popped into my head regarding time limits. I couldn't find anything about it on the justice site but I knew I'd seen something about time limits to dispute a will and according to this link it's six months. You mention 9 months of negotiations - how long is it since Probate was granted?
    Last edited by daska; 25-09-2012 at 9:09 PM.
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    • Fire Fox
    • By Fire Fox 26th Sep 12, 2:43 AM
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    Fire Fox
    You are not being clear at all. What exactly does the will say, the property is to be transferred to you all jointly? In which case you have done this, you need to produce accounts and then you have done your duty as executor. Or does the will say the property is to be sold? If so why has it been transferred into the beneficiaries names and not sold as her estate?

    Why are you confusing matters by purchasing the property? This is a conflict of interests with your role as executor because you obviously don't want to pay over the odds nor can you sell for less than market value. Unless you buying this property is specified in the will it is not part of your role as executor, so your sister's solicitor does not have to communicate with you as beneficiary.
    Last edited by Fire Fox; 26-09-2012 at 2:45 AM.
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    • userrobert
    • By userrobert 26th Sep 12, 7:03 AM
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    userrobert
    If you want, you could post the exact wording of the relevant bit of the will - removing any names, addresses, etc.

    I don't see how the solicitor can insist on you having a solicitor. You are the executor.
    Originally posted by Mojisola
    Here is the relevent parts of the will concerning the property.

    I'm also curious if the funeral costs which I paid out of my own savings should be shared with my sister?

    3) The expression my ĎTrusteesí means my executor and Personal Representative and the Trustee of this Will and any trust that might arise under it.

    6) I GIVE my interest in the property known as ########## as follows:

    a) As to ##% thereof to my daughter ##### of ######### absolutely

    b) As to ##% thereof to my said son ##### absolutely

    7) I GIVE all of my estate both real and personal and whatsoever and whosoever situate subject to and after payment thereout of my just debts and funeral and testamentary expenses and debts and legacies and all taxes payable on or by reason on my death in respect of my estate or part thereof (which said estate and the property for the time being representing the same is thereinafter referred to as Ďmy Residuary Estateí) upon my Trustees UPON TRUST to sell call in and convert the same into money at such time or times and in such manner as they shall think fit for power to postpone the sale calling in and conversion of the whole or any parts thereof for as long as they shall think fit without being responsible for loss
    • userrobert
    • By userrobert 26th Sep 12, 7:26 AM
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    userrobert
    Sorry, can you clarify? Are you saying that you are determined to buy the house although there is no legal requirement for you to do this? Or that the will stipulates that you must buy the remainder of the beneficiaries out of the house?

    If you are determined to buy the house yourself, come what may, then I'm afraid I think it likely that you'll just have to kowtow to her demands. BUT as I said before I believe you would be able to claim the costs of that from the estate - and that would potentially affect ALL the beneficiaries because if the only asset that falls within the estate is the property then the property will need to be sold to pay the costs or they will need to reimburse the estate before the remainder is distributed.




    He can't, but at the same time he is obliged to follow his client's instructions. If the client has told him that he may only respond to another solicitor then he must respond to that effect.

    Having said that OP, I suggest you continue writing on a frequent basis, as she will be having to pay for him to write any/all of his responses saying that he isn't allowed to respond, as well as the letters he sends her to tell her you've sent/ requested information. Probably @ £12 a pop. Is she made of money? Send him info and requests in dribs and drabs.

    Edited to add that a thought popped into my head regarding time limits. I couldn't find anything about it on the justice site but I knew I'd seen something about time limits to dispute a will and according to this link it's six months. You mention 9 months of negotiations - how long is it since Probate was granted?
    Originally posted by daska
    No, there is no legal requirement for me to buy the property. The will itself simply specifies in percentages how it is to be distributed between my sister and I (see above reply to Mojisola). I wish to buy the house because it has been the family for nearly forty years and I have a lot of great memories here. My stepfather and mum also died her too.

    There is just enough money in mumís bank which is enough to pay everyone mentioned in the will who were left cash.

    I can understand my sisterís solicitor has to respond to his clients wishes. However ,he has an obligation to do so within the boundaries of the law. Surely doing what he is isnít lawful being as executor power is granted by a court of justice.

    Yeah, I intend to not give up writing to him even though it is at my sisterís cost. With this said she has never worked in her life and is on benefits, thus getting Legal Aid. I work and cannot afford a solicitor.

    Sorry to say the six months is not up until another five weeks because probate took a while to be granted. This was because my best friend died just before my mum did and it took me some months to apply for it.

    With this said, my sisterís solicitor has been asking me for full details regarding my stepfather estate who died ten years ago. I refused to give them to him saying I was not the executor to his estate and therefore didnít possess the documents he requested. I also stated it had nearly been a decade since probated was finalised and suggested he contact the principal probate registry for a copy of it. He still kept asking for it so I contacted the executor to his estate and she said to give him her details, which I did.
    • Mojisola
    • By Mojisola 26th Sep 12, 7:28 AM
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    Mojisola
    I'm also curious if the funeral costs which I paid out of my own savings should be shared with my sister?

    7) I GIVE all of my estate both real and personal and whatsoever and whosoever situate subject to and after payment thereout of my just debts and funeral and testamentary expenses
    Originally posted by userrobert
    There's your answer. The funeral costs should come out of the estate. You should invoice the estate for the money you have spent on the funeral.
    • userrobert
    • By userrobert 26th Sep 12, 7:32 AM
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    userrobert
    You are not being clear at all. What exactly does the will say, the property is to be transferred to you all jointly? In which case you have done this, you need to produce accounts and then you have done your duty as executor. Or does the will say the property is to be sold? If so why has it been transferred into the beneficiaries names and not sold as her estate?

    Why are you confusing matters by purchasing the property? This is a conflict of interests with your role as executor because you obviously don't want to pay over the odds nor can you sell for less than market value. Unless you buying this property is specified in the will it is not part of your role as executor, so your sister's solicitor does not have to communicate with you as beneficiary.
    Originally posted by Fire Fox
    Hopefully the last two posts answer your questions.

    The property has been valued by independent estate agents by both myself and the trustees. The price we are buying the property at is at the full market value. We are not getting it at any discount.
    • userrobert
    • By userrobert 26th Sep 12, 7:33 AM
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    userrobert
    There's your answer. The funeral costs should come out of the estate. You should invoice the estate for the money you have spent on the funeral.
    Originally posted by Mojisola
    I just typed that and didn't even see it! Thanks for pointing it out :-)
    • Mojisola
    • By Mojisola 26th Sep 12, 7:33 AM
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    Mojisola
    6) I GIVE my interest in the property known as ########## as follows:

    a) As to ##% thereof to my daughter ##### of ######### absolutely

    b) As to ##% thereof to my said son ##### absolutely
    Originally posted by userrobert
    Have you done this and transferred ownership to you and your sister?

    Buying the house would then be a completely separate transaction between you, your sister and the trustees of the other part of the house and nothing to do with the will.
    • userrobert
    • By userrobert 26th Sep 12, 8:40 AM
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    userrobert
    Have you done this and transferred ownership to you and your sister?

    Buying the house would then be a completely separate transaction between you, your sister and the trustees of the other part of the house and nothing to do with the will.
    Originally posted by Mojisola
    If you mean having the change made on the land registry, no. The trustees and I agreed it didnít make financial sense to do it twice. The registry was to be changed by my banks solicitors on completion of the sale.

    Not sure this is the issue with my sisters solicitor being as he has not given a reason. All I know is his letter is headed ĎInheritance disputeí.
    • Somerset
    • By Somerset 26th Sep 12, 9:57 AM
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    Somerset
    Thinking about this, is it possible your sister doesn't want to sell her % of the house to you or anyone ?

    The estate contains 3/8th's of a house. While you may want to buy your sister's share (ignoring whether valuation is correct or not) I don't see why you assume you can force her to realise her % at £x. Normally in a house/beneficiary split you get some who want the cash so there's the option of an open market sale vs negotiation between beneficiaries of 'buying out' those who want to be bought out. Your late mother's house is already 5/8th's owned by a trust, so it can't be sold.

    At this point I'm stuck. in theory you (as a beneficiary) could force the executor (also you) to realise your % value. But my point is, your sister, in this precise situation, is not doing that - she's sought legal advice to prevent her % being disposed of ie sold. I don't see how you can dispose of it without her consent. The possibilities are a) she wants to retain her % or b) she wants a better price and if b) it's not as cut and dried as you think.

    Edit : Just thought, if the above is correct, the solicitor may be obliquely putting you on notice that the executor (you) is not in a legal position to dispose (sell) his client's inheritance (the %) and that the executor (you) should take legal advice on that position before proceeding.
    Last edited by Somerset; 26-09-2012 at 10:03 AM.
    • Mojisola
    • By Mojisola 26th Sep 12, 10:21 AM
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    Mojisola
    Thinking about this, is it possible your sister doesn't want to sell her % of the house to you or anyone ?
    Originally posted by Somerset
    Or that she realises that she can hold out for a much bigger payout from you if you really want to buy the house?

    I think legal advice as executor - which can be reclaimed from the estate - would be worth getting.

    Personally, I would be transferring the ownership and finalising the will and then treating the house sale as a completely separate arrangement.

    You and your sister and the trustees will then have to work out what to do with the house while it is in limbo. You will all be responsible for the insurance, upkeep, CT, etc.
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