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  1. #1
    lb20167's Avatar

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    Default contentious probate issue?

    Hi,


    I hope someone can help me with this. I will be going to find a solicitor tomorrow but thought I would check this in the meantime.


    In short, my dad passed away all of a sudden recently which I only found out after my uncle phoned me about it (and he only found out because he contacted the hospital), but I was not informed right away, as my Dad was in the hospital for quite some time before he died in hospital. I had sent my Dad a birthday card but he never even received it because he was in hospital, but when I went to the flat the card was already opened yet no one rang the number on the card to inform me (I put my mobile number on the card because my Dad was losing everyone's numbers due to not being well sometimes). I know my uncle's daughter went to my Dad's flat to collect paperwork before I went with her to get the rest of the paperwork at a later date. My uncle and his daughter had all the paperwork as my uncle wanted to manage everything. My uncle, uncle's wife and their daughter said they never opened the card, nor did anyone at the sheltered accommodation like the Warden or Cleaner. The first night my uncle let me know my Dad had passed away he said he will find what funds were left (if any) so we can pay the funeral costs, etc and went on to say that we would split everything 50/50 with whatever was left, and he even meant the pension of twelve thousands pounds plus, too, but after he has all the paperwork and got all the money in his bank account and I went to the funeral he goes back on his original agreement and basically wants to keep all the money from pension twelve thousand pounds plus because he said there was pre-existing instruction, which is strange because he wasn't aware of this at the beginning hence he was saying we would go 50/50. Long story short, I now received a letter from my uncle's solicitor saying the following:

    We write to advise you that we have been instructed by [UNCLE] who has passed to us a copy of your letter dated <snipped>.

    We have received the documentation provided by [UNCLE] relating to the payment made to him under the pension policy of the late [DAD] and we can confirm that payment has been made to our client in the sum of <sniped>.

    We would advise you that the lump sum payment made to our client does not fall within the late [DAD]'s Estate. The pension provider have confirmed that the entire value of the claim withheld within its master trust and was payable to our client at their discretion. We have also seen a document from the pension company which quite clearly states that [DAD] made an expression of wish that, in the event of his death, (we) are to consider paying the settlement of this claim to you [UNCLE]. This was therefore an ex-gratia payment made entirely at the discretion of the pension company and cannot be said to form part of the late [DAD]'s Estate.

    Leaving aside any issues as to the late [DAD]'s intestacy and the fact that you are not an Executor or Personal Representative, we have advised our client that he is under no legal obligation to pay any part of the value of the claim to you. Moreover, any formal or legal claim made by you in this regard will be strenuously defended.

    We would ask you not to communicate further with our client concerning this matter and would suggest that you direct any further communications through your Solicitors.
    My uncle has never provided me with any paperwork or anything and will not provide me with anything as he is obviously hiding something. Also, I signed the Death Certificate at the office, and my uncle was quick to ask for that so he could get the money from the pension, etc. I have not received original death certificate back or received any proof from my uncle or my uncle's solicitor stating that my dad did in fact say "We have also seen a document from the pension company which quite clearly states that [DAD] made an expression of wish that, in the event of his death, (we) are to consider paying the settlement of this claim to you [UNCLE]", and if so, why don't they show me proof of that? Even if that were the case, my Dad would have signed that many years ago before we did a DNA test together and got back in contact with each other. My Dad said he did not want my uncle to have anything because they never got on and he wanted me to have anything that was left. My uncle is going against my Dad's wishes just out of greed and helping his own family out financially, not caring about his brother's Son, it seems.


    Any advice would be much appreciated.
    Last edited by lb20167; 11th December 2016 at 13:21:PM.

  2. #2
    charitynjw's Avatar

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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    Hi lb20167

    Condolences on your recent loss.
    Re the trust, I must admit that, from what you say, something smells rotten.
    Was there a will?
    Even if not, it would appear that you would be a beneficiary via the rules of intestacy.
    If so, I reckon you'd have every right to examine the details of that trust.
    @des8 will probably be able to give more (& better) advice when he's next on forum (This will give him a nudge, so stay tuned, lol!)
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    Thanks, charitynjw's.


    Yes, it doesn't make any sense, and I shouldn't have to be going through this. There was no Will. My Dad suggested a few times we put one together, but I was too busy with work and never got round to do this with him. But he always said he wanted me to have whatever was left anyway, and I guess that's why we never got round to it.


    I know of rules intestacy (only learnt what it means recently due to all this nonsense), yet my uncle even had the cheek recently to say I could only have half of the £700 in the post office account, and I would not get any of pension. In the end he only sent me a check of £1,000 where the total money was around £12,750. I couldn't believe my uncle said that, especially when from the beginning he said he would find out whatever was in the pension and then split it. Unfortunately, I let them have all the paperwork because my uncle and his daughter said they would help manage everything because they went through it before with my Nan and Grandad, and I thought I could trust my uncle as he seemed genuine and would share everything 50/50 which I was happy to do, even though I was well aware I am entitled to the full amount and my uncle should not get anything. I was too naive and trusting. The day I went to get some paperwork and at the day of the funeral was the first time I had ever met my Dad's brother side of the family. They fooled me just to get as much of my Dad's money as possible which my Dad did not even want them to have. There's a lot more to it than what I've said, but there have been so many lies and contradictions on their part. All I've done is told the truth from day one.

    It wouldn't surprise me if something has been forged on their side for them to be able to claim the
    that [DAD] made an expression of wish that, in the event of his death, (we) are to consider paying the settlement of this claim to you [UNCLE]
    . My uncle wasn't even aware of this at the beginning, and never mentioned it. And then out of the blue says this is now the case.


    1) if that is the case, why not show me proof of this rather than get a solicitor involved?
    2) he was happy to accept 50/50 of my Dad's money from me when he thought I would get everything due to there being no Will and the intestacy rule, but when supposedly finds out my Dad said my uncle was to get all of the pension he then forgets the 50/50 and not only wants to share it with me but wants 100% of it. The cheek of it!? Surely after I offered 50/50, whether he was meant to get 100% of the pension or not my uncle could have still gone 50/50 with me because my Dad would have said it at a time when we weren't even in contact with each other. My Dad probably signed that 10-20 years ago. Given we did DNA test 4 years ago and had been in contact ever since surely what my Dad may have signed back then isn't valid. My Dad has not been that well for him even to think about updating the Pension. And I certainly didn't want to push him with anything as I didn't want him to think I was only after money.

    Very bad times for me indeed. Been through a lot already, and now this.
    Last edited by lb20167; 11th December 2016 at 15:18:PM.

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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    The main things that would concern me are

    A discretionary trust suddenly pops up out of the blue.
    The seeming reluctance to divulge details.
    The executor is the beneficiary of the trust.
    The apparent 'record' time that your uncle has achieved in grabbing it for himself.

    Any of the above would, in my opinion, raise a warning flag.
    All of them, & I would be at Defcon 1!
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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    Hi and welcome.
    Sorry to hear about your problems. It is always upsetting to hear of family disputes at the time of bereavement.

    Regarding the death benefit lump sum payment by the pension provider:
    It is usual for the provider to retain the right to pay whoever they see fit.
    Generally speaking they will follow the wishes of the pensioner.
    In this case it seems the provider was informed in writing by your father that he wished payment to his brother.
    You say circumstances have changed since those wishes were expressed, but it does not appear that the provider was informed and has paid according to your father's wishes.
    If they had been made aware of the change in circumstances they might have made a different decision.
    It might be worth a letter to the provider asking for confirmation, (after you have obtained probate?) but it will be difficult to get that decision reversed
    It seems that his solicitor is aware that you may try challenging it, hence the warning about strenuously defending.

    Regarding the rest of your father's estate, was there money in the bank/PO? shares, property, etc?

    Did any person obtain a grant of probate for your father's estate?
    You can find out here: https://www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inh...robate-records

    If no one applied for probate you should immediately do so.
    If some one else has already applied you should have been notified of the application.

    If you are granted probate all your father's assets have to be returned to you.
    If any institution (ex pension provider probably) has paid money to someone not the executor, they have done this at their own risk, and must make good the loss to the estate.

    Certainly discuss this with your solicitor, and possibly let us know te result, as it may help others.

  6. #6
    lb20167's Avatar

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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    Quote Originally Posted by charitynjw View Post
    The main things that would concern me are

    A discretionary trust suddenly pops up out of the blue.
    The seeming reluctance to divulge details.
    The executor is the beneficiary of the trust.
    The apparent 'record' time that your uncle has achieved in grabbing it for himself.

    Any of the above would, in my opinion, raise a warning flag.
    All of them, & I would be at Defcon 1!
    Totally agree to that. Thanks!

    I've got all my documents together ready to provide to solicitor tomorrow. I don't see how my uncle can get away with it. My uncle also sent me horrible letter saying

    When I spoke to Steven on the Monday before he died, it was his wish that you not be a beneficiary if anything should happen to him. He asked me to draw up a will to his wishes, and another including you as part beneficiary neither will was signed as you know. Therefore I am legally his next of kin.
    . He didn't say, Dad, deliberately wrote just his name rather than your Dad.

    That is so far from the truth, because like I said, my Dad and uncle never got on at all and which I also know from what other people who know them both told me. Of course, my so-called uncle is going to say such nonsense because he never had any intention of me getting any of the pension in the first place. He was just pretending to help and manage everything and saying we'd go 50/50 on anything left to stop me from causing any issues i.e delaying my uncle receiving any more or not receiving any at all.

    I see even more why my uncle and my Dad didn't get on after my uncle trying this.

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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    Doesn't your uncle talk a load of B******t
    "next of kin" is an emotive term which has no legal standing whatsoever

  8. #8
    lb20167's Avatar

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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    Many thanks for the information, @des8. I'm probably not even 20% clued up about this legal stuff but something screams out to me something definitely isn't right here and it sure isn't on my part.

    Hopefully, I'll find out more tomorrow. I just need to go to the city centre and find someone who will take this case. Any tips there? I believe I need free legal aid? I've found a few who can hopefully can help me with this. Obviously, I don't want to spend a fortune on this as I simply don't have it, but being 100% not happy with this I'll pay a good amount to try to get proper justice on this.

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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    Contentious probate is expensive, and you should try and find one who is a specialist.
    Legal aid is doubtful, but conditional fee (no win no fee) might be a possibility.
    Try for a short free consultation first.
    Have you looked at LBcompare (http://lbcompare.co.uk/)

    If you cannot find a solicitor, do consider applying for probate if it has not already been granted to another.
    We can support you as you progress through the system

  10. #10
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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    @des8

    Would it be worth getting a caveat to challenge representation?
    (I think it's £20ish)
    CAVEAT LECTOR

    This is only my opinion - "
    Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

    You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
    Cohen, Herb

    There is danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he
    gets his brain a-going.
    Phelps, C. C.

    "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"
    The last words of John Sedgwick

  11. #11
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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    Firstly I would ascertain if anyone had applied for probate?
    If they haven't one could lodge a caveat, but I think it better to apply oneself, as it then gives that person (and only that person) the legal right to handle the estate.
    But then it depends how much value there is in the estate if it will be worthwhile.
    But also, being the legal representative will increase OPs standing when approaching the pension provider, and in court if should OP contest the payment to the uncle that far.
    No easy answer methinks, especially if stress and emotion are factored into the mix together with possible familial reaction.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    Regarding the rest of your father's estate, was there money in the bank/PO? shares, property, etc?
    There was no property or shares. There was money in post office account and bank account around £3000 but not sure of the exact amounts as I've not seen the paperwork. But I know the money from those accounts were used to pay the funeral costs. There was around £700 pound in the post office account after that, which going by intestacy rules I could have 100%. My uncle bumped it up from £350 to £700 and then to £1000 when I said I wasn't happy to only receive such small amount of the pension and nothing from the PO or bank account, and my uncle gets around 90% the pension plus money from PO. I was away with my partners family in Greece at the time, and my uncle chooses to phone me the day after that I arrived there to say I could only have £1,000. Being upset I said I would contact him once I get back to the UK but when I got home saw the letter with a cheque of £1,000. There may have been other pensions with money left, and my Dad told me this, but my uncle said a lot of the money had been taken from the one pension. I'm not 100% sure exactly what there is, and I never read the paperwork and don't have any of it. I regret not checking any of it now. I just know what was in the PO, bank account and the one pension going by what my uncle told me.

    You say circumstances have changed since those wishes were expressed, but it does not appear that the provider was informed and has paid according to your father's wishes.

    I believe this is what has happened.

    My uncle at first said he was going to do probate and that's another reason I let him go ahead with it because he said it would be dealt with fairly by a third party or something like that. It was only after the funeral and just before I was going to Greece he said a probate wasn't needed because the total estate including pension was under £30k !?

    I checked the register, and no one has claimed it. I guess I need to ask a solicitor to do this?

    Paying just £20 for the caveat would be nice if it was all that was needed, given what I've already been through with all of this, but I'm not 100% clued up about this.

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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    You can exclude the pension from the estate for the purpose of probate.
    The balance of £3000 would mean your uncle was correct in that the estate would be classed as small and so probate would not be required.
    After the funeral expenses and other possible minor debts were paid I doubt much is left.
    As the estate is small (under £5000) there would be no court application fee to pay for probate, altho'a solicitor will charge.
    You could complete the form yourself and then pay the solicitor when you swear the required oath (?£5 here in west Wales!)

    Basically your left with challenging your uncle for the death benefit payment.
    Really you need to challenge the pension provider, but bearing in mind your father's alleged written instructions you will have some hurdles to overcome.
    You could (after contacting the pension provider to discover what they did or did not know, or what your uncle told them) in the first instance refer to the Pension Ombudsman.
    As the pensioner's son, having the grant of probate may encourage the pension provider to correspond with you.

    Lodging a caveat only stops the grant being made if another person applies for it.

    You mentioned the possibility of other pensions: check here:https://www.gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details

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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    As the estate is small (under £5000) there would be no court application fee to pay for probate, altho'a solicitor will charge.
    You could complete the form yourself and then pay the solicitor when you swear the required oath (?£5 here in west Wales!)
    I could complete it myself, but it seems I am missing a lot of information with exact figures and also at https://www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inh...representation it says I would need an official copy of the death certificate which was sent to my address but my uncle asked me to forward it to his address so he could process everything.


    Lodging a caveat only stops the grant being made if another person applies for it.
    I guess I won't bother with that then because the funds from the pension have already gone to my uncle and the probate only stops the grant for the estate which is not the issue here, rather me not being able to get the pension which my Dad said he wanted me to have.

    You mentioned the possibility of other pensions: check here:https://www.gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details
    I can't do this because my uncle has all the paperwork and so I don't know the name of the pensions.

    Basically your left with challenging your uncle for the death benefit payment.
    Really you need to challenge the pension provider, but bearing in mind your father's alleged written instructions you will have some hurdles to overcome.
    You could (after contacting the pension provider to discover what they did or did not know, or what your uncle told them) in the first instance refer to the Pension Ombudsman.
    As the pensioner's son, having the grant of probate may encourage the pension provider to correspond with you.

    In my eyes, this is fraud what my uncle has done, and fraud that he seems to be able to get away with unless I spend money (money he knows I haven't got) to spend thousands on fee's to take this to court, etc. Apparently, my uncle and his wife, and his daughter (who didn't even turn up to the funeral with the excuse that she could not get a babysitter) were planning this all along. I should not have to pay thousands for this to be resolved when apparently it was planned all along and is basically fraud.

    All my uncle had to do was show me proof what estate and pensions there were going by paperwork, but no, he kept everything from me on purpose to pull this off. I guess I need to let karma deal with this as it looks like it's going to cost too much to resolve, which he knew all along.

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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    PS I wasn't 100% sure about sharing such information on a public forum, but I couldn't find any similar information anywhere else. Even though in this case it seems there's not much I can do about it without spending lots of money, I hope the information helps others regarding how to go about this kind of stuff should they need to. For example, always keep the original death certificate and try to keep as much paperwork as possible so you can check what there is and where it is, etc.

    Thanks to everyone who gave advice in this forum so far. Much appreciated as I have a much better idea of what I can or can't do, and so hopefully it helps me work this out with a solicitor better, even if it's just a simple "sorry, this is too costly for you to follow up and so better call it a day".

    If anyone has more advice but prefer to private message me on this forum, then I give permission for you to do so, or reply here, either way, is fine.

    Thank you.

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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    I think you are probably taking the best course of action.
    The cost of contentious probate can be very high, and I think your chances of success in this case will be slim.
    There is also the emotional and stress factors to take into account.

    However, if you contact a solicitor it would be appreciatedf you could let us know what his advice is, as it might help others.
    In any case, whatever you decide, good luck

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    Default Re: contentious probate issue?

    I've received even more legal advice over the phone (none in person yet), and I've put together a document that tries to summarise everything as best as possible, to make it easier for solicitor to understand rather than read loads of comments from different paperwork etc, but even then, it's still lengthy because there's a lot to it, but it covers everything 100%. A lot of the information I'm not going to post on a public forum. You can probably tell I left a lot of information out of this thread because I'm upset and try not to let too much emotion out when writing. But the document explains everything in great detail with the 100% truth.


    Put it this way, if it doesn't get me the full money back which I know should be mine in the first place, and after what my uncle has put me through, then there is something seriously messed up with the law etc that would need correcting asap.


    I won't post anything more now, but if it goes in my favour (which it should), then I'll not say how it went that way, but I'll mention some of the firms I received useful free legal information from. And I'll mention the firm I ended up picking, though it'll just be included in the list. I'm not going to say who the company I used, for potential legal reasons, etc.


    If it doesn't go in my favour then maybe everything I've learnt about wills, probate, intestacy, next of kin, administration, etc I may be able to help someone in the future or it will be useful in another life.

    Love and Peace.

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