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Letters of indemnity for executors

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  • Letters of indemnity for executors

    My mother-in-law is one of the beneficiaries of her mother-in-law, as my father-in-law died about 12 months after his mother. My father in law was one of 4 beneficiaries of her estate (who were all her children) and one of the four executors (again, her children, so there remain 3 executors). There had been no settlement of the estate by the time of his death. My father-in-law died in April 2016 and his mother in March 2015. We have been trying to support my mother-in-law in getting her share of her mother-in-law's estate, which is proving challenging to say the least! There were 2 properties and a small amount in savings. Neither of the properties were worth more than 100k each and have intermittently been rented since March 2015. Periodically my mother in law has received a payment from one of the executors (who is taking the lead) as her share of the rent. No other monies have been received.

    One property was sold in August 2018 and the funds have not yet been distributed by the executors but (we believe) are held by the solicitor that dealt with the house sale. As we have access to some of my father in law's correspondence/emails during the 12 months that he survived his mother, we are aware that there was some impropriety (eg the lead executor was paid for carrying our her role as she claimed she had saved the estate the cost of paying professionals and money taken out of the estate accounts before probate as it was "due" to one of the executors). We have requested sight of proper accounts but what we received was confusing - there are multiple accounts set up for different purposes, a number of transfers between accounts that do not make sense, and we have challenged those on a number of occasions, just to try to get a clear understanding of exactly what is going on, and what the value of the estate is.

    Eventually we employed solicitors to try and help with this but they struggled to get any information/response from either the executors or various solicitors the executors have involved. In January 2019 draft accounts were received which my mother in law confirmed that she was happy with as a draft since, in truth, she is running out of fight and they looked reasonable enough for her to accept. Since the sale of the property in August 2018, my mother in law has received nothing - we do not know if the remaining property is rented and there is any income. A number of letters have been received from the executors' solicitors in the last few months, requesting sight of documents provided previously (eg her grant of representation following my father in law's death) which she has again provided. She has confirmed on several occasions that she is happy for the funds from the house sale to be distributed in accordance with the will. She has now received a letter asking her to sign an indemnity against the executors (she has been asked repeatedly if she intends to make a claim against them and she has confirmed that she does not on the basis of the information she has to date). The wording is

    "I hereby agree to indemnify the executors and trustees of the late x's estate in their capacity as executor and trustees and in their personal capacity in respect of any claims I or the estate of Y (my father in law) may have against the estate of X.

    For the sake of clarity, I confirm that I hold harmless in respect of any and all claims whether intermated or not which may hereinafter arise in relation to the distribution of X's estate and or any property held on trust. "

    The solicitor's letter states that if she is unable to sign it, they require her to provide them with her full reasoning.

    Our question is should she sign it (given what we know about the executors) and does that mean that if she does, she will never be able to follow up if they are found to act inappropriately at a later date when the rest of the estate is wound up (if that is in her lifetime!!)? I imagine that we may reach stalemate if she does not, however? Are they entitled to require her to give her reasons if she doesn't sign it? It feels like she is giving them carte blanche to do what they want?

    Any advice gratefully received!
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