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trouble with beneficiaries

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  • trouble with beneficiaries

    My wife is the eldest of five children, we married 50 years ago. Mum & Dad were 50/50 joint owners of a bungalow. Mum had to go into a nursing home, we moved into the bungalow as agreed with Dad and family that we would buy it, none of the others were interested as it needed a lot of work.

    Mum died in 2012 and in her Will left her half to the five children, we paid all siblings their Mum's share. Dad's Will stated that his half goes to my wife and I provided we pay the 4 siblings the balance of their share. A Family Agreement was made in 2013 by a solicitor stating that we would by their share for £50K each and all agreed and signed. Dad died in 2017 and this started the trouble with the siblings holding back and not signing papers so we can get the deeds put in our name. We have been residing in the bungalow since Dad moved into an Abbeyfield Residence some seven years before he died, with the knowledge of all siblings.

    We have completely changed the bungalow with extension built, new bathroom, block driveway, complete decoration and flooring, lawn and garden improved. We have spent a lot of our money doing these alterations and improvements. One sibling died in 2014 and her share is being paid to her two children, one niece has been paid and signed papers stating this but the other is holding back and has not signed yet.

    We have paid two other siblings (one a trouble maker) completely and they have eventually signed papers reflecting this. One sibling took six months before signing. The last sibling also has had papers six months and despite reminders from our solicitor has still not signed. The trouble maker told the others that we have cheated them and they have believed her and hence the delays. The trouble maker demanded her money some months before Dad actually died and wrote notes supposedly dictated from Dad, which we haven't seen and now trying to get more money from us as the bungalow has improved in value since the Family Agreement was made.

    None of the siblings are actually speaking to us, not that this bothers us, as we think that they are being very unreasonable in their demands. None of them did any work for Dad at the bungalow before he moved to Abbeyfield and did very little for him when he was at Abbeyfield, preferring to leave it to my wife and I.

    We have asked our solicitor to get on with paying the final two by whatever means but despite reminders, the final two have not signed, what do you suggest we do to finalise things?

    Any thoughts and help would be very much appreciated.
    Tags: None

  • #2
    Hello all,

    Have read with interest many of your posts and answers, hope you might find my story interesting enough to join in.


    • #3
      Pay the final two, without making signing a condition, and hope that they don't take any further action.


      • #4
        Presumably your concern is that without the confirmation that the condition in the will regarding payment of each of your siblings their share, you cannot have the bungalow registered fully in your names.
        It is unclear from your post what the will actually states: is it they are to receive their share of the value of the bungalow at the time of your father's passing, or the £50000 each agreed in the separate family agreement.
        Whether or not that agreement could override the wording of the will would be debatable.

        Tagging Peridot who has more insight into these situations


        • #5
          Many thanks Mariefab & Des8 for answering so quickly

          In my father-in-laws Will it states "I give absolutely all my share and interest in the equity of the freehold property (property address) to my Daughter (daughters name)and my son in law (son in laws name).

          It is in the Family Deed that the amount is shown (1) "By the terms of Dad's Will his half share of the property passes to my wife and I subject to paying the mortgage that is secured against it." (2) (Dad's Name) wishes that on his death the property shall be for the benefit and occupation of my wife and I conditional to us paying each beneficiaries the sum of £50k each"

          So far, we have paid the mortgage; 2 beneficiaries and 1 beneficiaries daughter (our niece). All that remains to pay is £35,500 to the last two and all have been paid in full. It may seem an odd amount but we paid out on Mother's death. The last beneficiary has money from her father-in-law, so doesn't really need payment but always been slow at doing things if not really pushed into it.

          The Family Agreement ( instigated by the trouble maker/don't trust anyone sister-in-law ) has been subjected to scrutiny by wife's brother and his solicitor and he wanted payment as per the Agreement which we have.

          I have recently asked our very slow solicitor to just get on and get it done and we will sort it out as and when anything happens.

          Many thanks for your thoughts and help


          • #6
            Hi Harveyh,

            Just so I can get this straight in my head if you could confirm I have understood this correctly.

            Mum and dad own property in equal shares.
            On mum's death she left her 50% equally to her 5 children so you all ended up with a 5% share of the property with your father retaining his 50%.
            On your father in law's death he left his 50% share in the property to you and your wife on the proviso you took over any mortgage and also paid the other 4 children £50,000 each.
            One of the children has pre-deceased their father so that child's £50,000 is to be divided equally between their children.
            Is that correct?

            Following your mother in law's death were payments made to the siblings then rather than them becoming joint owners of the property? I assume that if they received money for their share instead of a legal share in the property the figure was calculated from the property valuation at the time of their mother's passing (which would be correct).

            Is there still a sum due to any of the siblings from the death of their mother? Was there any other agreement on how or when any outstanding payment would be made? Did you and your wife then end up owning 50% of the property with your father in law?

            Then on your father in law's death he left his share to you and your wife subject to any mortgage secured on it (for which you would become responsible) and on the proviso that each of the other siblings was paid £50,000 each, which reflected a previous family agreement entered into by the siblings and their father relating to the value of his share of the property. Is that correct?

            So if that is the case, there should in effect be 2 payments due to the other 4 siblings (or their children), one to reflect their share of their mother's half of the property, which if paid at that time would be calculated on the property valuation at their mother's death. The second payment is then based on your father in law's will and the family agreement being £50,000 for each of the 4 siblings. Is this your understanding?

            I then become confused why you are mentioning a sum of £35,500? Did those individuals receive a part payment from the £50k due to them previously?

            Hopefully we can steer you further once you have clarified the above.

            I am a qualified solicitor and 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.


            • #7
              Hi Peridot,
              Many thanks for offering to help.

              It has all become rather fraught as the siblings refuse to speak with us since Dad died, which makes things difficult and us estranged. The trouble-maker is also an Executor along with my wife. Friendly advice to others reading this is DO NOT have 2 Executors unless one has control over the other.

              Yes, the 4 were all paid their Mothers share in the property, the value of the property was done for probate and at a later date when Dad tried to sell it to move to an Abbeyfield assisted home. Dad wanted all his children to each to finish up with a total amount of £50k on his death, which made £25,000 for Mum's share and £25,000 for his. The bungalow was valued at £265,000 at that time as Dad had a mortgage of £15,000, which we paid before he died.

              We deposited £200,000 in the bank to pay for the bungalow. From this they have all been paid their Mother's share and each has been paid a portion of the interest the balance of money made, after being paid for Dad's portion each will finish up with a total amount of £52,026.56.

              The amount of £35,500 comes from one sibling owed £25,500 for her part share and interest (gift from Dad is what it really should be) and one niece owed £10,000 for her part share from Dad. The sibling has had her papers for over 6 months and still not signed them so we can't change the deeds over to our name. It all became messy amounts as we paid Mother's funeral expenses and paid them money from the interest earned from the money we had put into the bank to pay outright for the bungalow. It was Dad who had the idea of myself and wife inheriting the bungalow as it relieved him of the responsibility of owning a large amount of money.

              Hope this has cleared the muddy water.


              • #8
                Hi again,
                lt has become rather complicated hasn’t it. Without seeing both your mother and father in laws wills together with the family agreement, it is difficult to see exactly what the wording of the legacies mean. It may be that the family agreement (depending on the exact wording) creates effectively a 2nd payment so in total each should potentially receive £75,000 which doesn’t appear to be your take on the matter.

                You mention siblings owing money to the estate for part shares but also that this was a ‘gift’ from dad? A gift can’t be taken back although if made in the 7 years before death should have been included in the inheritance tax forms for probate. If it was a loan in writing that would be different but from your post that doesn’t appear to be the case.

                So the property has never been in your wife’s siblings names or if it was it then transferred to you and your wife?

                You have a solicitor acting for you and I assume they have untangles the previous agreement and payments to enable you to decide the correct figures due to each sibling now?

                Have they suggested any way forward if you do not receive the signed document (which I assume is an acknowledgment for the final payment due and confirmation this is accepted in full and final settlement of their legacy)?

                What has your solicitor suggested in respect of the last payment? Has 6 mths passed since Probate was granted?

                I am a qualified solicitor and 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.


                • #9
                  Hi Peridot,

                  Many thanks again for looking at our problem.

                  The siblings understood that they would only receive a total amount of £50,000 each. They had half of this when Mother died only because we had money to pay for the bungalow in the bank, otherwise, they would have had to wait until Dad had died and the bungalow sold to receive. Dad didn't have any savings, the money to them would have come from selling the bungalow. The siblings had pestered Dad for Mum's money only because they knew we had it in the bank, my wife and I wanted them to wait until Dad had passed, as would a normal inheritance follow, but trouble-maker kept on to Dad until he finally gave in, she even had her final amount months before Dad died.

                  We have written confirmation that the trouble-maker, plus another sibling, plus one niece have had all the money that is due to them and that they have no further financial interest in the bungalow.

                  Had a telephone conversation with the second niece yesterday, it looks likely she will sign the papers our solicitor needs her to sign and we will pay her, that will be another one finished with.

                  The final sibling doesn't need the money and could be the stumbling block because of this. She has already been paid her Mother's portion and is not mentioned in Dad's Will but is mentioned on the Family Agreement. as follows " Mr 'X' wishes that on his death the property shall be for the benefit and occupation of Mrs'Y' and her husband Mr 'Y' conditional upon Mrs 'Y' and her husband Mr 'Y' paying each of the other beneficiaries namely Mrs 'A', Mrs 'B', Mrs 'C', and Mr 'D' the sum of £50,000. (Mrs 'C' died and her share went to her two children (our nieces))

                  Our solicitor has contacted each sibling and had each of them sign an agreement combining both parts of the Will's, except the final sibling who has had the papers over six months. After our pushing, our solicitor has recently contacted her to ascertain why she has not signed but has not had a reply as far as we know. We have arranged a meeting with our solicitor but earliest available date is in 13 days time and we were trying to find our grounds before then. Our solicitor has not suggested a way forward and worrying us.

                  Probate was granted January 2018 by same company of solicitors.

                  Its difficult to get our heads round this lot, so know how an outsider must feel. Dad wasn't expected to go on as long as he did, it was his body that let him down but his mind was really very good, exceptional for a man of his age.

                  Many thanks for helping, I hope the above has clarified.


                  • #10
                    Hi HarveyH,

                    Sorry I've not been about.

                    So are any of the siblings suggesting they should receive a larger sum?
                    I appreciate the siblings understood they would receive £50,000 in total but the wording of the Wills and the agreement are not clear on this (although the recital in the family agreement may shed more light of course).

                    It looks like there is only one sibling left (once the niece returns her signed acknowledgment?
                    I suppose if all other parties have now accepted the sums due to them as per your understanding of the agreement then it does create more pressure on the last to agree.

                    Has the solicitor given you any advice what to do in the event the final sibling doesn't return the document? Could you hold the outstanding sum securely and finalise the rest of the distributions and estate administration? If this is an option you would need to keep the sum safe for the sibling and any interest accrued would also go to that sibling.

                    So frustrating when you just want to get matters finalised. See what options your solicitor recommends and pop back on here if you need to.
                    I am a qualified solicitor and 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.


                    • #11
                      Hi Peridot,

                      Many thanks for coming back to help.

                      None of the sibling have said that they should have a larger sum, but they have said to a niece the reason they are not speaking or having contact with us is that they think we have cheated them. We have asked them what their gripe was and what in their opinion have we done wrong but we get no answers, which is very frustrating and can't be answered. The sibling holding back now has money and we think she wants to keep her portion of what ever she has in the bungalow just to delay and annoy.

                      The solicitor has given no advice up to now on how to proceed and hence us seeking help on 'legalbeagles', we can't be unique, can we?

                      We thought of putting the money in a 'Trust' for the final sibling but not sure what this entails or how does it benefit us in getting the Deeds signed to us. We were hoping that we would have some questions to put to our solicitor and knowing already what the answers should be and what they entail.

                      As you said previously, very messy, my wife has tried speaking with them on the phone but they are very unpleasant and one accosted my wife in a local shop, which was even more unpleasant. and doesn't want a repeat episode.

                      Many thanks


                      • #12
                        Hi again,

                        It is so hard. Particularly when your wife's parents appear to have tried to keep all the children in the loop so to speak. These situations bring out the worst in people unfortunately.

                        I still haven't got it straight so your wife's sibling (who doesn't need the money) has their name on the property register held at HM Land Registry? Were all their rights registered on the mother's death at HMLR? It would explain why all the paperwork is needed to be returned to enable their names or a Deed to be removed from the property title.

                        Is it worth trying to build bridges and set out what has been done to the property since you and your wife moved in and the cost of it? Would it make any difference to the monied sibling signing the paperwork, or settle the other siblings down? It is a tough call, it can just add fuel to the matter if they aren't going to be receptive to any explanations, but I suppose if you live close to some of them and will be bumping into them in the local shops it may be worth trying to salvage some sort of relationship with them? How does your wife feel about any future relationships with them?

                        I assume that when the Deed of Assignment was entered into the house had been valued as it was then in 2013? I don't suppose the value went up significantly in the 4 years before your father in law died and if you had work done during those final years, paid for by yourselves, then you could demonstrate the increased value is due to works you funded and it would become more difficult for the siblings to suggest they had been diddled in some way?

                        Once I've heard from you about the position with the Property title and HMLR
                        I will have another nose around for some more information on getting the name/deed removed from the title and let you know.
                        I am a qualified solicitor and 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.


                        • #13
                          Hi Peridot,

                          Thanks for returning,

                          The bungalow has only been registered in the names of wife's parents, there are no siblings names on the Deeds.

                          We know the parents-in-laws would be livid if they knew what was going on. We have tried a meeting but all we got was animosity from stepping over the threshold until we left. Phone calls have been answered very abruptly and not in a manner where you would want to phone again. The trouble only really started after father-in-law died, we asked why didn't they ask the questions whilst father-in-law was still around but has never been answered. We were also told that we haven't followed mother and father-in-law's wishes but when questioned, again got no answers. Father-in-law had his full mental capacity until he died. The father-in-law treated me like a son and don't think that went down too well with the brother-in-law.

                          We said a solicitor should be involved in doing the Probate but brother-in-law wanted to do it himself but he wasn't down as an Executor but his remark "Dad doesn't have any assets," showed he was lacking in knowledge and when asked what he thought the bungalow was if not an asset he backed down stamping his feet in a temper (he is in his 50's). Finally his remark was "If you want a solicitor to do the Probate, you pay for it". He didn't even know that the estate pays for such a thing. We employed a solicitor and the Probate was signed off by my wife and her 'trouble-maker' sister' both of them being Executors. The value of the bungalow was entered for probate when father-in-law died which showed a slight increase above what we had spent on it. We wanted the bungalow for our enjoyment and not for profit.

                          The 'trouble-maker' sister I think is just jealous of what the bungalow has turned out from what it was to how it is now. I have done a lot of the work myself with the aid of specialist when needed and my wife has done a lot of the work in the garden, with me doing the hardscaping.

                          Can't see the family ever being repaired because the 'trouble-maker' seems to like conflicts and can never forget and seems to have some hold over the others, maybe because they are on the same side of the fence. My wife is of the same opinion as me, we don't need them, so we just need to get the Deeds sorted and then we can move on with our lives and get rid of this headache.

                          We are collecting questions to ask our solicitor, hope she has answers.

                          Many thanks for your thought in trying to help.


                          • #14
                            It is such a sad situation when the family can't even communicate civilly with each other.

                            I would say you definitely did the right thing appointing a solicitors to deal with the probate bearing in mind the agro you have had from your wife's siblings. Imagine if you'd done this yourselves!

                            As far as the property legal title is concerned this is probably the reason the solicitor needs documents signed. On your mother in law's death a trust of her share of the property was basically created so although the title documents weren't changed the paper trail of ownership has come through the wills of your in-laws so to speak, hence the siblings having to allow their share of the trust to be passed on.

                            Maybe with time the siblings can build some bridges? In the meantime, hopefully your solicitor can push things on for you so you can finalise this and move on. Only the one to deal with now so you are nearly there.

                            Here for support if needed.
                            I am a qualified solicitor and 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.


                            • #15
                              Hi Peridot,

                              Many thanks once again, you have clarified a point I was concerned about, and why our solicitor wanted the signatures. Is there anyway in which our solicitor can force the last one to sign or is there a way round it and not need all the signatures?


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