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Probate problems

(15 Posts)
Sbagran Tue 27-Sep-11 18:27:06

Does anyone know how the probate system works?
Does the probate office have any rules after probate is granted to an individual or is that the end of their involvement?
My Mum died nearly two years ago; DH and I having been her 'carers' for many years - visiting, shopping, holidays, social arrangements etc. Mum always said DH was more of a 'son' to her than her two sons.
My brothers live approx 300 miles away and rarely visited or even phoned or communicated by letter.
In her will Mum made the 3 of us joint executors. I feel in her naivety she thought it would make us get along with each other as there had been problems between us. Sadly it had the opposite effect.
Mum had left full instructions for her funeral etc so they couldn't argue with that. I had had power of attorney for the last 6 months of her life as Mum had decided to go into residential care a year earlier and didn't want to deal with her finances etc and was getting very very muddled. I kept full accounts of every penny of Mum's money that was spent - down to the last ice-cream and always kept her money separate to mine.
The boys disputed the POA but were told by Mum's solicitor and GP that it was in order.
The boys objected (by email of course not by actually offering to help!) to virtually everything I did. They even objected to a 'nails at home' lady giving Mum a manicure and hand massage once a month at the princely sum of £16 out of HER money. They made my life hell when Mum was alive and moreso after she died.
To cut a long story short it soon became obvious that there was no way the sale of her flat and sorting of her affairs could ever be done jointly. I was on the spot and could have dealt with everything fairly and quickly as I already had a good working relationship with Mum's solicitor, estate agent etc but the boys wouldn't agree to let me get on with it.
Finally I consulted a solicitor in my own right and had to give in and agree to my younger brother applying for probate as between them they had ground me down into a wreck with the bickering and arguing. My solicitor did say however that my brother would HAVE to supply a complete copy of the accounts of everything in and out to both my other brother and myself when everything was sorted.
Nearly two years on he has still not completed the task. Apart from her very run down flat Mum basically had what she stood up in - no off-shore bank accounts etc! It could and should have been dealt with ages ago.
He has sent us all two 'increments' a largish one when the flat-sale went through followed by a smaller one. He kept back approx £1,000 (?) whilst tying up the loose ends. Incidentally, both of these payments were paid by cheque from his personal bank account.
I feel awful fighting now for a third of what is left - probably just a few hundred pounds each - I don't know. It is the principal and I know Mum would have wanted everything dealt with fairly and legally without any of this nastiness. My brother, when convincing me I couldn't do it, always stressed to me that it was a intricate legal matter and had to be done legally and officially - yet he seems to have forgotten that now he is dealing.
Last Christmas he moved to Spain refusing our offer to complete what was left for him. He has now said he can't finalise things as all the paperwork is still in storage until they find their permanent home!
Is there a time limit in which he should have completed the job?
Do I have any rights to make him deal with it?
Should I go back to my solicitor which I feel I may have to?

Jacey Tue 27-Sep-11 20:46:24

Short answers ...
1. probate can grind exceedingly slowly ...I'm still trying to get things buttoned down after 16 months ...and there are/were no complications.

Well ...apart from solicitors!!

2. Stop stressing yourself out ...go back to your solicitor ...or your mother's and ask!!

You have my sympathy ...a difficult situation, on the back of a traumatic period in your life.

Be kinder to yourself ...remember, you did everything you could to make your mother's life easier and enjoyable ...hang on to those memories.

Sbagran Tue 27-Sep-11 21:16:21

Thanks Jacey - I appreciate these things take time - it is just the frustration of the lack of communication after all the lectures and criticism that I had experienced!
I feel I will have to go back to my solicitor at some stage but I am definitely not stressing myself out over it as it was all his decision to 'take over' and is therefore his responsibility to deal with it.
It is so sad that experiences like this bring out the worst in people. I am certain that had he been 'nicer' to Mum when she was alive and had not been so nasty to DH and I when Mum died, I would have 'written off' the last few pounds.
It is not the money - it's the principle and I admit to a bit of revenge smile
Such a sad situation - Mum was so brave over her obviously hurt feelings whenever 'the boys' let her down.
I will never forget her face at her surprise 80th birthday lunch. She looked around in sheer delight at seeing all the friends and family that were there - then asked where youngest son was. I obviously couldn't tell her he 'couldn't justify the expense of coming that 300 miles' and just explained that he couldn't get away, but bless her, she knew. She was used to it but always put on a brave face.
Thanks for your comforting words - I am not a vindictive person. I just want what is right and what Mum would have wanted. DH and I visit her grave regularly and talk about her all the time so we have no regrets or guilt feelings. She had a wonderful death - so peaceful. She was ready spiritually having tremendous religious faith, was frail and tired. Yes we miss her and always will but we have that same faith that will carry us through.
I hope you can soon get your probate situation sorted.

glammanana Tue 27-Sep-11 23:20:48

Sbagran Why does the worst part of our sibling's come out of the woodwork when probate is involved,my youngest sister was living at my parent's home when they died within three month's of each other just over 10yrs ago,the house was all paid for etc and between us the value on sale was to be split 5 way's,but with 4 of us already married and in no financial need of the monie's we decided to sign the house over to her and she would pay for the upkeep etc.After 4 yrs she put the house on the market and sold at a massive profit and there was nothing we could do about it,she obviously has no contact with any of us now and we don't even know where she is living.I would say be careful how much it would cost you to pursue the case with solicitor's as you could come off worse off,I would just treat your brother with the contempt that he deserve's,and hope that the property he has bought in Spain has been subject to the massive devaluation that all Spainish propertie's have undergone in the past 3/4yrs.What goes around comes around is the well known saying.x So glad to hear your mum had such a peaceful and serene ending to her life.

susiecb Wed 28-Sep-11 09:27:56

We have just re done our joint will. Several things have chagned apparently in the legal world of wills so we had to make sure the way we wanted things was legally watertight. I would urge everyone to just check to see their will is up to date and takes into account any relavent chaghes in their life and in legal terms. I was appalled at the way things could have turned out if we had left our prevsiou will as it was.

Sbagran Wed 28-Sep-11 21:31:04

Good advice susieb - we checked our joint will recently and tweaked it slightly. Our main concern was that having three children we didn't want to do what my Mum did and make any or all of them executors (see my posting at the beginning of this thread and you will see the reason why!)
What happened to me made us think. I KNOW that our three children will never have the rift that my brothers and I have had, so we are sure that they could be trusted to act as joint executors without the distress and pain we experienced with Mum's will.
However a friend did make a very valid point. Our daughter is divorced with young children - no way would she take advantage but she has already married (and divorced!) one complete imbecile - who says that if she was to marry again or acquire a partner that she could not be influenced or even bullied? As far as two sons (plus DIL and fiancee) are concerned we trust them all, but who knows what the future holds for any of them.
We decided that for our peace of mind and to protect all three from the horrendous time I am experiencing with my brothers we wouldn't make any or all of them executors and give the job to the family solicitor. Yes, it will cost a bit from the estate, but could save so much anguish - daughter and sons have all been told and have backed this arrangement 100% as they have seen what happened to me.

HarleyNan Mon 13-Feb-12 21:57:12

Can anyone help me? My dad has named me (his only child) as executor for his will, and I notice that the will writing company are also named as executors. I am concerned they will have some claim to his estate when he dies? I've phoned the company to discuss it and they've assured me they do not have any claim but I still feel unsure. Does anyone have any experience of this?

Carol Mon 13-Feb-12 22:08:39

It's most likely that he has paid a fee in advance for their service and this covers execution of his will. If you read the will, you will know who the beneficiaries are already.

Annobel Mon 13-Feb-12 22:39:16

The company has no claim on his estate unless named as a beneficiary. You, as joint executor, will be able to keep an eye on the activities of the company. My father made the mistake of naming only his bank as executor and we had no right to intervene if we thought things were going too slowly - which they were. Had we been joint executors they wouldn't have got away with their distinctly casual attitude.

HarleyNan Tue 14-Feb-12 08:29:40

Thank you Carol and Annobel - the will writing company is not named as a beneficiary but I just wondered if there was a way, as a joint executor, they could or would get some money, just for being named. There's no small print and they don't seem keen to take their name off, which makes me suspicious. (As I get older, I seem to be getting suspicious of everybody - not too sure if that's a good or bad thing!) I will probably write them a letter with a couple of questions that need to have direct answers, (not the waffley ones that leave you still not understanding at the end of the phone conversation!). But thank you ladies, it's becoming a little clearer. I am going to pop into the local Citizens Advice Bureau (only noticed it was there yesterday but they were closed - it's been there for years apparently!! I obviously walk around with my eyes closed except when I need help ha ha!). I just wanted the will writing company to say 'No, we definitely won't take any money from you' - but they waffled and waffled ...... and I got more and more suspicious. Thank you for responding, it's comforting to know that others have experience of these things smile

shysal Tue 14-Feb-12 08:35:31

A friend's father named his bank as executor, for which they charged a fee taken from the estate, which is fair enough.

Annobel Tue 14-Feb-12 08:38:25

You are right to be suspicious. They are likely to send you a bill for any work they do as executors. You need to be very clear about this before you agree to their taking on any tasks that you could easily do yourself.

JessM Tue 14-Feb-12 08:49:29

sbagran you must be hurt by your brother's behaviour. If it is a small amount of money and it is just the principle then I think you should try to let it go. You are getting hung up on what your mother would have wanted. Well she would have wanted your brothers to behave better, but there is nothing you can do about that. I don't think she would want you to make yourself miserable or stressed over this any more. You were a great daughter to her and you have done your best to carry on being a good daughter since she died. She would want you to give yourself a break, let go of this unpleasant mess and try to focus on getting the most out of life.

Greatnan Tue 14-Feb-12 09:30:02

Check out the costs of using either a solicitor or a bank to act as executors. I found that a solicitor usually charges a set fee based on the time involved, but banks charge a percentage of the estate, no matter how much or little they have to do. We all know what banks are like!
I hate to sound cynical, but do not rely on goodwill between siblings (or from ex husbands). People seem to change whenever money is involved. Make your wishes very clear on paper and have an 'In the event of my death' folder with all your insurance policies, bank and credit card details, pension providers, etc.

This is a very sad story, but I agree that it is probably not worth the hassle to challenge your brother for a few hundred pounds. Let us hope he eventually feels guilty and gets no pleasure from the money.

FlicketyB Tue 14-Feb-12 16:58:44

After somebody has died it is possible to make a Deed of Variation that changes the terms and conditions of the will. You will, however need the consent of all the beneficiaries to do this, even if their legacy is unaffected by the changes. My parents made a Deed of Variation after my sister died intestate which meant everything she left would legally go to them, they wanted her estate to go their surviving children without the danger of tax being due if they died within seven years (they were in their late 70s). My mother did die six years later.

After my father died my surviving sister and I used a Deed of Variation to channel part of his estate direct to his grandchildren and also to revoke a puzzling codicil that made sorting out the contents of the house difficult. It wasnt expensive.