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Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

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  • #16
    Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Thanks Peridot.

    He is not making a meeting easy at the moment and is refusing to acknowledge phonecalls.

    Obviously, we don't wont to jump to conclusions but all the signs are looking premeditated to me. I don't understand how somebody in his position (self imposed Next of Kin) could not make arrangements to ensure things were carried out correctly. If we suspect foul play and he refuses to cooperate, what route (if any) would you suggest we take? I really appreciate your help.

    Comment


    • #17
      Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

      Hi,
      It depends what you mean by foul play. Legally he owns the balance of the joint account.

      However if he has not distributed the estate (excluding the joint account amount I am afraid) according to the strict intestacy rules then you do (or the sons do) have a claim against the estate and they could issue Court proceedings. But even if the Court were to find in your favour the cost of taking such an action may well outweigh the benefit of what you would receive from the estate, bearing in mind the size. There is no guarantee that a costs order would be made against your Uncle personally and may infact be taken from the estate, leaving even less to go around.

      It may be sensible to write to the Uncle setting out your concerns that the strict Intestacy Rules have not been followed and that in the circumstances a claim could be made against him to obtain the information relating to the estate values and to ensure the rules are followed correctly. As I say, not knowing the relationships it may be worth saying you think this may be an oversight on his part (if you're feeling generous!) and that you'd all like to get together to discuss this. Also that you are willing to mediate to resolve issues and would welcome his agreement.

      Set a timescale for a response, maybe 14-21 days and say after that date you will be taking legal action. You don't have to take that step of course but it may nudge him into responding.

      I would suggest you get yourself a free half hour or reduced fee appointment with a wills and probate specialist who deals with contentious probate. Sometimes these specialists are in the litigation departments of firms or they may be in the private client (wills and probate) department so you may have to call about a bit.

      I suspect you would be advised the same as the estate is not considerable and the cost of taking legal action may well outweigh the potential benefits I'm afraid, but always worth getting a further opinion.

      If you do go and see someone do write yourself out a timeline of events and as much factual information that you can recall so you don't waste any time with the lawyer. Hopefully it will put your mind at rest that you tried everything, but unless you have the funds to throw considerable amounts of money at this I suspect there is no easy solution.

      Do pop back here if you have any other queries or just to let us know how you get on.
      I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

      Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

      If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

      Comment


      • #18
        Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

        Thanks again for this information Peridot, it really is very helpful.

        Over the weekend, our saga has continued, and if you don't mind, I would like to hear your opinion. I will try to keep it brief....

        We managed to speak to my uncle and he told us that she did not want to leave a will (despite her telling me otherwise and asking me to buy one). He then said that she wrote her wishes on a piece of paper and because they were 'nasty' he burned them. I explained that the rules of intestacy therefore apply. I then asked about the discrepancy in the value of her estate and he put the phone down.

        I have spent all morning writing a letter and putting our concerns in writing and he has now sent his son to my mothers place of work - with a copy of the note that he said he burned. It quite clearly states that she wanted all off her personal belonging to go to charity - 5,000 to him and the remainder of her money to be shared amongst her grandchildren. Its is signed but not dated or witnessed. He has disregarded this and split her estate as he see fit. He has also provided a breakdown of how her estate was distributed and it is still 20k short of the amount she has told 6 family members.

        As he has proved himself unreliable and blatently lied about my nans wishes to have a formal will - we are all of the opinion that he cannot be trusted. What I would like to know is, do you think that her estate is still intestate and do the beneficiaries have the right to request copies of her closing statements. It is doubtful that he has applied for a grant of letters of administration and it looks as though he has just distributed the estate as he sees fit.

        Thanks again for your assistance. I wish I could send you flowers....

        Comment


        • #19
          Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

          Hi DeeBee779,
          It must be so hard for you all and really unnecessary. The piece of paper with her wishes on is worth nothing as you mention it was not signed dated or witnessed. I would maybe have more sympathy if he was trying to follow the wishes but it appears that he has taken it upon himself to do as he pleases.
          The intestacy rules stand and he should comply with them. If you are feeling generous and with consultation with the other legitimate beneficiaries maybe consider offering him the 5k provided he then deals with all other assets including the joint account under the intestacy rules?
          Just a thought and may not be appropriate but a negotiation point maybe? It is not up to him who gets what under the strict rules and it may be worth pointing out that you could sue him if needs be. I wouldn't recommend this course of action bearing in mind the situation with the joint account and the sums that we are dealing with but again another negotiation point and he doesn't have to know you wouldn't issue a claim. As I say the main issue is this joint account which legally is now his and unless he wishes to be reasonable or you can find anything in writing confirming that this was how your gran wanted the account dealt with I'm afraid legally you don't have a leg to stand on in respect of this account.
          It may be worth trying to play nicely to gauge what he is actually wanting to achieve, other than souring all family relations. (Maybe don't say that bit while you're playing nicely!)
          The residuary beneficiaries can request the closing statements from him and if he is not helpful then I would suggest contacting the bank and explaining the situation.
          If on seeing the closing balance you have any concerns I would suggest getting yourself a free half hour or reduced fee appointment with a contested probate specialist to go through what your next options could be. You can then weigh up what action if any to take.
          I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

          Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

          If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

          Comment


          • #20
            Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

            Once again, thank you Peridot, this is very helpful,

            We have drafted a letter and will be sending it to him this week. Very sad state of affairs and we could all kick ourselves now for trusting him to put her affairs in order. We should have checked and I really feel we only have ourselves to blame. Thanks again for your time, its much appreciated.

            Comment


            • #21
              Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

              It's always a difficult situation. What I would say is once this is all sorted do make sure you all have your wills and any lasting powers of attorney sorted so hopefully this can't happen again in the future. Keep us posted and here if you need any more pointers.
              I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

              Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

              If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

              Comment


              • #22
                Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

                Originally posted by Peridot View Post
                It's always a difficult situation. What I would say is once this is all sorted do make sure you all have your wills and any lasting powers of attorney sorted so hopefully this can't happen again in the future. Keep us posted and here if you need any more pointers.
                Hi - I wondered if anyone could help

                To recap
                My grandmother died in May and despite telling me that my Uncle had her Will - it has now transpired that she has died intestate leaving 7 children. She often told me how much money she had and since her death my uncle divided her estate as he pleases. He has left 2 brothers out and not shared the remainder equally. I believe her estate to be approx 45-50k but have no proof,only my grandmothers word.

                He has offered no explanation on how her estate was divided - he hasnt applied for probate or letters of administration and simply gave 4 envelopes of unequal cash to his 4 brothers and sisters. 20k is unaccounted for.

                Since my last post, we have wrote to him and he did not respond amicably. He has admitted to inadvertently breaking the rules of intestacy and asked for all beneficiaries to repay the money they received to correct this. He knows that this is impossible for my mum to do as she bought a small car and doesn't not have 4k to pay back. With regards to the missing money - he is highly offended but not offered any proof and asked not to be contacted! At this point we are still none the wiser as to whether he shared a joint account with my Nan.

                My mum and uncle have spoken to 1 solicitor but have been told that due to the small estate it would not be beneficial to the family to proceed down the legal route as the costs would outweigh any benefits.

                Does anybody have any suggestions on how we can get some closure on this, I feel really frustrated that the law only seems to be available to those who can afford it. We are by no means well off and cannot afford legal advice.

                It has been suggested that my mum applies for Probate and Grant of Administration. Would this then legally oblige him to provide closing statements etc? Also, what are the consequences, if any, of him unlawfully administering an estate? Would the beneficiaries need to pay back what they have received to correct the Estate or is my Uncle liable for correcting this?

                Any help would be appreciated. Thanks


                Comment


                • #23
                  Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

                  Hi DeeBee779,

                  Such a shame your Uncle hasn't reacted well. I suppose he is trying to do the right thing by requesting the legacies back but I don't believe the beneficiaries are obliged to do this. As there is no Will, technically he has no powers, as he has not obtained a Grant (which is where the person dealing with the estate gets the power. If there was a Will the power comes from the Will). This doesn't help the current situation which to put right, will cost significant time and money for anyone dealing and may not achieve the outcome all the siblings would hope for in any event.

                  I wouldn't think your mother obtaining a Grant would be helpful. She would then become liable as the administrator of the estate and your Uncle has 'intermeddled' significantly. It would be very time consuming and the whole estate would need to be unpicked to start again.

                  As far as making a claim is concerned, I'm afraid it is a sad fact that unless we were discussing significant amounts of money it is not worth issuing Court proceedings. Proceedings are very costly and stressful. The result may be favourable to the beneficiaries, but equally the cost and time spent dealing with the matter could well outweigh any financial benefit they may receive as a result. It isn't fair when most of us consider 1,000 a significant amount of money worth fighting for, but the Court process is expensive and that sort of money is wiped out very rapidly.

                  If I recall correctly did you say that the Uncle was a joint name on the bank account? If that was the case then the account automatically passes to him as the survivor. Legally the beneficiaries have no recourse in respect of the account. It seems that this issue is a moral one and not one that legally you could pursue. The fact that your grandmother indicated to you her wishes and told you what assets she had are unfortunately irrelevant.
                  In the circumstances and bearing in mind any Court proceedings against the Uncle could very easily cost several thousand pounds, it is a case of weighing up what the potential benefit would be to the beneficiaries.

                  Would the other beneficiaries consider pooling their legacies and then divide the pool equally between them (this would I anticipate exclude the Uncle of course) Just trying to think of other ways to deal with the issue really. It is a horrible, frustrating situation but I doubt you would find a lawyer willing to take the matter on. It may be worth obtaining another lawyers view in a free half hour or reduced fee appointment. I suspect their view may be similar to the previous lawyer though, I'm afraid.
                  I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

                  Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

                  If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

                    Thank you Peridot, despite not being what we wanted to hear I appreciate your honesty (and tact - its surprising how insensitive some people can be when dealing with this type of thing). I just wanted a second opinion before we gave up. Thanks for your time.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

                      You could just contact the other beneficiaries and see what they think then write to uncle and hint at legal proceedings if he does not cooperate. It may just make him come tot he table.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

                        Hi Ostell

                        Yes, that was my initial thought too - we called him and asked him politely, he put the phone down. So we then put our concerns in writing and he wrote back asking for the money back to administer 'correctly' and offered no explanation for the missing money.

                        Unfortunately, nothing more we can do. The law is only available to those who can afford it.

                        Thanks anyway

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

                          But you can hint at it. It often concentrates peoples thoughts. Look at Parking charges, people pay even when there is no liability because they fear court.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

                            Originally posted by ostell View Post
                            But you can hint at it. It often concentrates peoples thoughts. Look at Parking charges, people pay even when there is no liability because they fear court.

                            Very true - its probably worth a try. Im also going to try my local Citizens Advice to see what they say.

                            Thanks for the motivation

                            Comment

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