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Obtaining original Will from solicitor

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  • Obtaining original Will from solicitor

    Hi all,

    Just hoping for some of your expert advice again please.

    Basically my father has recently passed away and mum has just managed to locate a copy of the will they took out over 10yrs ago. These copies have been hand signed so didnít know if they were classed as the original.

    Researching the solicitors, it appears they have either stopped trading or have been taken over. Looking on the FCA website it states ĎNo longer registered as an appointed representativeí.
    Having made contact with the numbers on the will pack, the contact number has changed and they provide another which mentions a different name for the company.

    My mum made contact with them who have confirmed to her that they do indeed hold the original will in storage.

    Looking at the will my mum and the original named Solictors company are both named as the executors..Mum asked for the will and was told by them that a fee would be due to release the will as she mentioned I was going to do probate having done this for my grandmothers estate. That prompted a strange reaction from them, they starting asking her about investments, property in my fathers name etc. They told mum that they could do probate and would be cheaper (£200 release fee, then £200 something for getting probate if we did it), they would do it slightly cheaper (£375).

    I must admit it does sound a tad dodgy, both me and mum are worried they will add more and more fees, when we donít want them doing it as itís straightforward.

    My questions are:-

    - Can they insist on doing probate (sure they canít), and where does mum stand as an executor in obtaining the original will they have?

    - the agreement names the solicitors, who donít exist/trade under that name but a different one (as mentioned not sure how the new name relates to the old company) Does that therefore mean the company holding the original are no longer executors now?

    - is it normal to charge for renouncing? Can they refuse to renounce? Where would that leave mum?

    The will conditions read (part D)
    The conditions (including scale of fees) on which ********** ******** limited act as executor last published before the date of this will shall apply and during administration of any trust arising under this will ****** limited shall be remunerated in accordance with the scale of fees current at my death from time to time.

    There is a wills for life membership agreement which lists the agreement fri membership.

    Sorry for the long post..., just we really donít want these people acting to do probate as we are happy to do this, and have heard many a horror story of hidden and massive probate solicitors fees, thats why Iím sure they were trying to talk mum round to using them.

    She is thinking if they agree to renounce for a £200 plus cost she will do it

    many many thanks!

    Lizy



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  • #2
    Hi Lizy,

    You mention the FCA website is this a law firm or financial advisor that you're dealing with?

    Assuming it was a law firm, do you know what happened to the original solicitors, were they taken over or went into administration?
    The wording of the executor clause will be relevant as this may allow for subsequent law firms who take over to effectively step into the original firms shoes, as far as an executor appointment is concerned.

    If the wording of the Will allows for this, they still have a duty to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries, which in the case of simple estates could mean they do not act as executor and renounce their position allowing the remaining executor to deal with the estate themselves. If the estate is complicated however they can argue that your father had requested they were appointed and these were his wishes and refuse. If the estate is complicated then it can often be sensible to allow the lawyers to carry on but not always the case.

    You technically can't obtain the Grant of Probate as you are not the named executor your mum is, although I suspect you mean you'll be helping her but she will remain the person obtaining the Grant?

    If they renounce then a document will be needed to confirm this is the case, as part of the Oath process to obtain the Grant. It is not difficult and could be completed by your mum for them to sign.

    If you were never informed of any charges for storage then that can't be what they are charging for but you maybe need to check particularly if this wasn't a law firm. This may be what they are claiming a charge for. There seem to be a few untidy ends around what they are saying, but it may not be that there is anything dodgy going on.

    If you believe your mum is perfectly capable of dealing with the estate herself (with your help) and it isn't a complicated estate I would stick to your guns. I would want to know exactly what this £200 fee is for before handing any money over rather than mentioning various things it may or may not be. They need to confirm exactly what the charge is for:-
    If it is storage then you needed to be informed of this before the will was stored there and they therefore shouldn't be charging for this service
    If it is for them to agree to renounce their executor position I would want to know why they are claiming a fee to do so when they should be acting in the estate and beneficiaries best interests. This is of course provided they are lawyers not financial advisers who are governed by different rules.
    If it is for a form to be completed renouncing, then you want to know exactly what form/document they ae proposing as you'd be happy to prepare the document for their signature.

    As an aside,
    I would suggest that your mum removes her own will from the company assuming both wills were prepared by the same firm? It would be a good idea for her to review her will in any event once things have been sorted in respect of your father's estate but in addition would you want to be dealing with the same issues as now when the time comes.

    I hope that gives you some pointers do post again if we can provide any further guidance.
    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.

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