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Followup to previous post re issues with executors

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  • Followup to previous post re issues with executors

    Sorry to come back and post again! I left out the surrounding details from my last post because my main question was 'is it worth pursuing these last few bits', but I'm now getting a bit worried there are going to be further issues with getting the solicitor to pay out the remainder of the month and wanted to see if I could have some pre-emptive advice. Hopefully I'm just being a pessimist and it'll all be fine! Again, I'm going to leave out some of the pettiness and background stuff that has happened regarding funeral disagreements etc. in the hope I can stay vaguely anonymous and because otherwise this is going to be an insanely long post noone will read

    Mum didn't have a will - she died intestate with me as the beneficiary and executor following those rules. My grandparents told me in the same phone call they let me know she was dead that they were going to administer the estate since it would be easier. When I tried to push to do it myself, they refused to hand over Mum's paperwork or effects. Since I believed that the estate was insolvent and had other major ongoing challenges, I opted to let them go ahead and apply for probate rather than take legal action to get hold of the paperwork etc.

    My grandparents then told me that Mum had insurance and pension payouts due that I hadn't known about. Around the same time, they hired a solicitor at a fairly high hourly cost to take care of everything for them. I talked to the solicitor to explain the situation and she promised she would make sure everything was done above board and, she hoped, for less than the maximum price she had agreed in the contract she signed. Again, with the solicitor already hired and personal issues still ongoing, I opted not to take any legal action and signed to give them permission to act. At this point, my grandparents claimed the solicitor had shown them one of my emails and I specifically requested she not show them any more due to the nature of our relationship.

    Months down the line, whilst I was dealing with a new and unexpected medical crisis (it's been a bad few years!!) my grandparents went to the solicitor to say that Mum had owed them money when she died and they wanted it back. The first I heard about this was a message from the solicitor asking me to sort out the paperwork to authorise them being repaid. My grandparents had specifically told me months before that Mum died without owing money to any family members. There was no evidence for a debt, but the solicitor insisted that whilst the decision was mine my grandparents didn't live an elaborate lifestyle. My grandparents sent me some very nasty messages about the money, telling me that they hadn't anticipated me being anything less than eager to sign it over and that they had been embarrassed to ask me directly. They also claimed to be struggling for money. I'm pretty sure that they thought they could have it without me being asked.

    Ultimately, I decided that I would sign a deed of variation to give them their money to make the nasty messages stop and ensure that they didn't do anything worse. I asked the solicitor to sort it out but if possible to delay the payment until the estate was finalised. The messages continued until ultimately I broke down in tears in the street and emailed the solicitor to say just give them their damn money. The solicitor was made aware of both the nature of our relationship and the messages they had sent. MyMy grandparents then went on holiday as soon as they had the money.

    Throughout the process, I asked the solicitor a number of tkmes whether things were going smoothly and expressed my concern that my grandparents were unable to answer certain questions about outgoings etc. the solicitor assured me she was handling all of this and that I shouldn't worry as it was all going smoothly.

    There were other minor annoyances throughout including the solicitor not keeping me posted when I had asked to be contacted with updates, telling me she was busy with other cases or being a bit abrupt, but honestly I assume most solicitors are busy and have lots of clients ongoing at any given time! The solicitor also kept making a point of telling me she was working on my behalf rather than for my grandparents, which seemed odd since they signed the contracts etc. but she seemed to know what she was doing and as far as I could tell everything other than what I've already mentioned was going well.

    Anyway, eventually I received the draft accounts as I mentioned in my other post. I'd asked if I needed to sign off on these in any way asathe beneficiary and was told I didn't and that only my grandparents would need to approve them.

    I emailed the solicitor to query a few points at around the time I posted my other post here and she shrugged off my concerns. She told me that my grandparents would be signing off the accounts this week. In that message she said that to that the gift being paid back to my grandparents as an expense must have been a misunderstanding on my part (ie. that they gave me an advance towards costs) and that people usually pay their own expenses to get to funerals (the gift was put through as my travel and associated expenses).

    I responded to say that, provided she could confirm that she had seen all of the relevant expenses receipts, that in her opinion all the costs were all of benefit to the estate, that she had done her best to make sure that my grandparents understood their obligations and that she believed the estate accounts are good to go, I was happy to go ahead and leave it at that. I expected that in return I'd have a brief message to say that this was all fine, but I haven't heard anything back at all and I'm starting to get a bit worried.

    Here come the questions.

    As I say, hopefully I'm worrying about nothing (and apologies if that's the case and you've waded through all of this unnecessary detail!!) but how long is a fair amount of time to wait before querying the solicitor again for an update/response? Should I be worrying that she's not able to confirm those things, or is she probably just too busy to snap a quick email back? How long is a reasonable time to expect to wait between everything being signed off and distribution? And what should I do once I've waited? I'm painfully aware that the solicitors' fees hit her maximum amount so she isn't making any more money from responding to me at this point - should I just assume she'll get round to me when she's less busy? I know I could probably call her and ask but she never seems to be in her office when I do and I have anxiety issues around making calls at the best of times.

    I know it must sound like I've been incredibly nave throughout and I now feel like it was stupid of me to ask the solicitor to ocnfirm anything at all rather than just waiting, but I genuinely thought it would be almost a formality to confirm those things Please don't tell me I should have stood up to them sooner - if I could go back and change that I would, but at this point I'd just like to make the best of things and have it all signed off and sorted!

    Thanks to anyone who's taken the time to read through everything, I know it's probably a bit of a slog to get through!!
    Tags: None

  • #2
    Hi again Catcabin,
    You need to take a breath. From what you've said the grandparents have had all they are due that you'd agreed to already, whether they should or not isn't up for debate. As you say you just want everything else finalised and to move on now. When did you last have contact with the solicitor about the accounts and she indicated they had been sent for approval to the grandparents?
    It can still take a few weeks particularly if the solicitor is still waiting to hear from HMRC that all tax has been dealt with. That isn't just inheritance tax but all income tax for your mother's life and post death interest accrued on any sums. HMRC can take an age. She may be dealing with the queries you raised and waiting for a response from your grandparents?
    If it is a few weeks since you know the accounts went to the administrators for approval then it wouldn't be unreasonable to contact the solicitor. Do you have her e-mail? Maybe just a gentle reminder along the lines of:-
    'I appreciate you are busy but would be grateful for an update and estimate of when the distribution will occur. If there is anything I can do to speed up the process such as providing bank details or identification please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.'
    You mention an hourly rate or is this being dealt with under an agreed fixed fee?
    Please try not to worry, you have drawn a line and indicated you just want things sorted. We can all decide we would have done things differently if we had our time again but it doesn't mean it would have been any easier or quicker to deal with. In all likelihood it would have become even more drawn out and nasty which doesn't help you at all. It will finalise and as we said before then you can move on and never speak to them again if you don't want 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.


    • #3
      Thanks - I'm doing my best to stay calm, I'm naturally a bit of a worrier and with the way things are going I'm more than half expecting something else to go wrong.

      I had a draft copy of the accounts by post on Friday and an email back from the solicitor first thing on Monday morning responding to my queries there. I then emailed again on Monday and haven't heard back.

      All of the tax was dealt with at the end of last month. Barring a council tax refund which came through just before the estate accounts were drafted, everything was completed then. The solicitor had agreed an hourly fee up to a total max charge. Her bill is included in the draft accounts at the max figure and has been paid. The solicitor has all of my ID and bank details already.

      My grandparents were sent the final accounts at the same time as I was sent the draft and if I've understood the last message they sent me they signed them on Monday and now believe everything is done and I've been paid in full. Obviously I'm aware the solicitor can't magic the money over to me and I know I must sound really impatient, I just don't have a good understanding of what timescales are typical. Thanks so much for your advice again, I really do appreciate you taking the time. I'll hold off on pestering the solicitor for now and if nothing has changed by the end of next week I'll send her another email then.


      • #4
        Hi again,
        You are a worry wart . It is only Thursday now. If they sent the signed accounts on Monday by 2nd class they may only just be with the solicitor today even. She will then have to draw her bill, make arrangements for the transfer or drawing of cheque in your favour and then post it to you so it may be a week or so depending on their accounts system at the firm.

        It's good to know they have approved the accounts and sent them back it really shouldn't take long if the tax position has been cleared.

        Here if you need a rant/worry/moan. It will happen soon, please try not to panic, although I appreciate why you would be a bit wobbly after all you've been through. Well done holding it together.
        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.


        • #5
          Ok, here's a quick update and (hopefully!) the last lot of questions!

          The solicitor replied to say she'd seen receipts but ignored the rest of my questions, which is pretty much what I was expecting her to do! Then nothing else from her until today when I received a final copy of the accounts and the last of the money was transferred to me.

          ​​​​​I'd asked if I'd need to sign anything and the solicitor had told me I didn't, but included in the accounts was a sheet for me to sign and return which reads:

          "I, the undersigned acknowledge to have received from the personal representatives of the above named deceased the sum of (amount of final payment)

          I agree to the distribution as set out in the accounts and I acknowledge receipt of the said sum in full satusatisfac and discharge of my share and interest in the estate.

          I agree to indemnify the personal representatives and the estate from and against all claims and demands in and I undertake to sign any further form of release which the personal representatives may desire"

          Is that the standard wording of something a beneficiary would be expected to sign? I'm a bit worried by the bit about indemnifying them and I don't like that it sounds like I'm promising to sign any future contracts before I've even seen them. Is there anything legally to stop me from just not signing it? Or am I just worrying about nothing again?


          • #6
            Hi again,
            It is standard wording. Basically should a claim arise against the estate or a debt is found that was unknown then the creditor or claimant can potentially pursue the residuary beneficiaries for payment of any proven claim or amount outstanding.
            in the usual course of things and particularly where solicitors are concerned a section 27 notice will have been placed so all debts should have been identified and settled.
            If it is over 6 mths since Probate was granted it is unlikely a claim could now be raised. Id be wrong to say impossible but unlikely anyone could persuade the Court to extend the time limit unless there are very unusual circumstances.
            As I said there is no legal requirement for residuary beneficiaries to approve accounts although good practice dictates it would be sensible. If you have decided to let the other items go so to speak then there isnt an issue. If you want to peruse this further then you need to let the solicitors know why you are questioning them and get a response how they propose dealing.
            Hope that explains things.
            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
              Thanks Peridot - we're just about to hit a year since probate was granted and a section 27 notice was definitely posted, so hopefully we're all in the clear! I just wanted to check they weren't trying to pull one last nasty stunt I'll get it signed and back to them when I have chance - hopefully then I can have a nice clean break from it all


              • #8
                Well done holding it together. Fingers crossed all finalised and can move on now.
                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.


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