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Probate Problems

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  • Probate Problems

    My brother and I are residual beneficiaries of my late uncle's Estate. My uncle who was single died intestate and my late father pre-deceased him. His sister is the administrator, but we later learned that her son carried out all the work from instructing a solicitor to sorting out all affairs of the Estate. My aunt was used to sign all the forms of probate etc only.

    Three months ago we received a letter from the solicitor advising us that they were ready to distribute our inheritance. He's stipulating that we must sign the receipt and indemnity before he agrees to distribute our share of the Estate. Requests to go in to his office so that we could sign the form in person have been ignored and gone unanswered.

    His letter generally outlined the liabilities of the Estate but the sum total does not add up to the total that he arrived at. When we first learned about the inheritance, my cousin verbally told my brother that my uncle held several different accounts in different banks, but this is not corroborated by the affidavit. There's also discrepancies between what was declared on the affidavit which we were forced to get from the probate office and that given in his letter.

    My uncle was the joint owner of a house with his mother. When gran died 40 years ago, ownership would have passed to my uncle under the rules of survivorship. Through the probate process however, it then emerged that 21 days after gran had died, that he gifted half of his share over to another sister who was residing in the family home, but this was never lodged in the land registry by his old solicitor who is no longer practising. We don't know if our uncle changed his mind, or if this was done as a tax avoidance measure.

    One of our concerns is about any potential tax liabilities to the Estate associated with our uncle divesting himself of half of the property that he had inherited from gran within this time period, and if that debt was fully settled prior to his death. Twelve years after gran died, my uncle and aunt were put into a nursing home and a psych facility by the administrator and her son.

    Letters that I have signed addressed to the solicitor and the administrator seeking clarification on matters raised have gone unanswered. The solicitor has only ever responded to letters from my brother and even then he fobs him off and doesn't answer any of the questions being asked. The administrator will not communicate with us at all.

    He's charged a fee per hour which represents 15% of the Estate's value. He has repeatedly refused to provide us with information about his hourly rate being charged and to give us an itemised bill. He has refused to state if the Estate was billed in respect to the work that he undertook on behalf of the other joint owner to establish title ownership over the house. They won't give us any supporting documentation that would allow us to verify and to sign off on the accounts either. In his last email to my brother, he stated that he's withholding this information and our inheritance on the instructions of the administrator.

    We have voiced our dissatisfaction about the standard of professional services and his ongoing failure to communicate and to reply to letters.

    We're concerned about being asked to approve accounts in a situation where we cannot verify or objectively stand over their accuracy. We're concerned about assuming liability in a situation where all potential tax liabilities may not have not been fully settled by the administrator. We're concerned about being pressurized into indemnifying the administrator in order to receive our share of the inheritance. We're concerned about signing a form that legally acknowledges that we have received our share from our uncle's Estate when there's no guarantee that the solicitor or the administrator will distribute our inheritance once they have received the signed receipt.

    What is the best course of action from here? We already advised him that we will go to the Law Society, but that doesn't seem to have phased him at all. Is there any point in writing to him again and if so, what do we say? I take it that it's not wise to sign off on incomplete accounts where you're not in a position to verify or to standover their accuracy? Should we raise our concerns about any potential tax liabilities for the Estate with the tax dept? I'd be worried about accepting an inheritance without first satisfying ourselves that there's no outstanding tax liabilities. Or do we need to instruct a solicitor and go to the Probate Office? It's just disheartening that our aunt/cousin would go to such lengths to prevent us from enjoying the gift from our uncle.
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  • #2
    Re: Probate Problems

    Hi and welcome.

    I'm a bit bemused by your opening sentences that your are residuary beneficiaries to an estate of an uncle who died intestate.

    Assuming you are in England, your uncle did not have a survivng spouse or civil partner, and had no children, as he died intestate his estate should pass in its entirety to any surviving siblings.
    You refer to his (?) sister so how is the estate being distributed?

    Here's a link toa flow chart regarding rules of inheritance

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Probate Problems

      Originally posted by des8 View Post
      Hi and welcome.

      I'm a bit bemused by your opening sentences that your are residuary beneficiaries to an estate of an uncle who died intestate.

      Assuming you are in England, your uncle did not have a survivng spouse or civil partner, and had no children, as he died intestate his estate should pass in its entirety to any surviving siblings.
      You refer to his (?) sister so how is the estate being distributed?

      Here's a link toa flow chart regarding rules of inheritance
      My uncle was single and there's no spouse or children. He died intestate without a will which means that his estate is being distributed between the surviving siblings. As my father (his brother) is dead, we're stepping into his shoes.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Probate Problems

        Sorry.. I was confused (often .)
        The estate passes in its entirety to his siblings or, if they are predeceased to that siblings children.

        You could write to the administrator (not the solicitor) telling her that if the information you require is not forthcoming you will apply to the court for an order forcing her to declare an inventory and account.
        This is a relatively cheap & quick process, and might throw up useful information to help you decide whether or not to pursue this matter

        Send a copy (marked "for information") to the solicitor.
        It might trigger a response without having to apply to the court.

        Comment

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