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Probate granted over a year ago but still waiting for inheritance.

(35 Posts)
pippala Thu 15-Nov-12 11:10:34

My SF died over two years ago and my SS and SB are the executors.
Probate was granted over a year ago and the house was sold. I have had an interim payment from the sale of the house but am still waiting for the rest of the inheritance.
My SS is not happy that I was left anything and has asked me to do a deed of variation to give her the money back. Which I refused. We have not spoken for 18months since.
How can I make her give me the rest of my inheritance?
Her solicitor has not responded to my solicitor since last november even though my solicitor has written several times.
I am not happy that SS and SB probably had their share but I havent had mine? Can solicitor do that?

digerd Thu 15-Nov-12 11:50:07

Will or have you already had an inheritance from your biological father?
How old were you when he became your stepdad? I am wondering why your step siblings are against you inheriting?

aftereight Thu 15-Nov-12 12:05:51

Not a legal POV, but can your solicitor issue a deadline and threaten court proceedings to recover the money?

Lilymaid Thu 15-Nov-12 12:16:52

Did the solicitors only act in relation to the sale of the house? I am currently an executor and have used a solicitor to speed up obtaining grant of probate and to sell the house, but have distributed the rest of the proceeds myself as they have come in. You may need to approach the executors either yourself or via your solicitor.
There is a possibility that they are hanging onto some money in case there is inheritance tax liability.

emsyj Thu 15-Nov-12 12:26:12

I would ask the solicitors dealing with the probate matter for a copy of the estate accounts. Are you a residuary beneficiary? i.e. are you entitled to a share of the estate (rather than a specific asset/amount of money)? If so, you're entitled to see the accounts, which should show you what has been distributed and what remains plus any liabilities yet to be dealt with.

Lilymaid, inheritance tax must be paid before the grant is issued. The only exception is where there are assets on which the tax may be paid in instalments - e.g. property. However, once a property is sold the full balance of instalments becomes payable immediately. If there are outstanding instalment payments due, this should be shown in the estate accounts.

It is possible that there have been claims received in relation to the estate - you can only ask.

cumfy Thu 15-Nov-12 12:42:00

Have you been given a fixed sum and one of them the rest of the estate?

Can't understand why your solicitor is not seeking court proceedings or threat thereof.

emsyj Thu 15-Nov-12 13:02:27

Perhaps because the executors might be able to use estate money to fund the defence of the claim, cumfy? It could wipe out whatever is left. I know nothing about contentious probate as have never advised on it so I wouldn't want to be definitive, but the OP's solicitor could be trying to keep it 'nice' to avoid the executors wasting estate money on court proceedings... Just a thought.

cumfy Thu 15-Nov-12 13:43:06

Even though that seems potentially illegal emsyj its an interesting angle.

So long as executors have assets eg property of their own I don't think it is practical hurdle.
Executors have a very straightforward obligation to execute in a timely fashion the will, which is interpreted "as at death".

If the OP has been left £X in the will, then £X they get.
I'm not sure there is really much wiggle room.

emsyj Thu 15-Nov-12 13:55:19

Sorry I don't follow your post cumfy... I was saying that where there is a claim against the estate, it would be usual to use estate funds to pay the legal costs of defending such a claim. So unless the OP was making a personal claim against the executors for failing to fulfil their duty as executors (which I know nothing about, never advised on it - but suspect neither the OP nor her own solicitor have enough information to be able to advise on at this point since they don't know why the final distributions have not yet taken place) it is possible that estate funds could be diminished or entirely used up in defending any claim the OP were to bring to try and get her money.

Does that make more sense?

"If the OP has been left £X in the will, then £X they get." Hmmm, not always. I get the impression (tho it hasn't been confirmed on the thread) that the OP is a residuary beneficiary, i.e. she is entitled to a share of what's left after debts, specific gifts etc have been paid out. If she has actually been left a specific amount, it would be usual to pay this out in one go rather than make an 'interim distribution' - this is what you would pay to residuary beneficiaries, pending final payments once the rest of the administration has been completed and you know exactly what you've got left. If the estate doesn't have enough funds to pay everyone who is owed (whether because the deceased had debts or because a claim is brought against the estate), there are statutory provisions regarding how entitlements are abated (reduced) and in what order.

cumfy Thu 15-Nov-12 14:06:29

It does make sense and it's exactly what I thought you were saying.wink

^ I have had an interim payment from the sale of the house but am still waiting for the rest of the inheritance^

I interpret this as the OP knowing there is a fixed sum outstanding.
I also think it is fairly clear and settled case especially absent there being an explanation forthcoming from the executors.
ie they are going to have trouble making "a case" out of "I bequeath £X to OP".

If they try and fall flat on their face they will pay everyone's costs out of their assets.
Which is why I asked what personal assets they have.

emsyj Thu 15-Nov-12 14:14:24

Oh, I don't interpret it like that - I read it that the OP is still waiting for money but doesn't know how much, probably because my personal experience as a solicitor in practice is that I have never known executors to pay a part of a legacy, I've only ever made interim distributions to residuary beneficiaries: I can't envisage a situation where you would make a part payment of a specific amount in this way.

I think the OP needs to establish what their reasons are for not paying out - there could be legitimate reasons, but it seems strange that the solicitors have not disclosed them.

cumfy Thu 15-Nov-12 14:26:32

I can't envisage a situation where you would make a part payment of a specific amount in this way.

Well yes that is indeed the conundrum.

One answer to which is yours.
The other is essentially that jealous SS executor has decided that her residuary bequest, consequent on the housing slump, is unjustly low, that OP deserved nothing in the first place and that she can manipulate the situation being an executor.
eg withholding funds and requesting a deed of variation, as she apparently has.

emsyj Thu 15-Nov-12 14:32:30

It is true that some people do bonkers things following a death - bereavement has funny effects on people, and adding money into the mix often leads to very nasty behaviour, even from people who have previously been very reasonable and nice. I hope the OP gets an explanation as to what's going on!

pippala Thu 15-Nov-12 16:50:56

The estate is a very substantial one!
Inheritance tax was paid before probate was granted.
I have seen the accounts before and after the probate was granted.
My step siblings are not happy as their DF left my Mum 1/3 of his estate. My Mum has died which meant her 1/3 now comes to me.
They asked me to give them the 1/3 back to them through a deed of variation.
I refused as if my Mum was alive she would not have given them her 1/3 she would have left it to me!
My mum looked after their DF for over 20years with Parkinsons and dementia. He should have been in a home years ago and it led my Mum to an early grave!
i think they and their solicitor are just keeping me waiting as there is no reason not to distribute the estate. I guess they have their 1/3 each just not given me mine.
It amounts to well over 6 figures.

emsyj Thu 15-Nov-12 17:39:54

They should pay you interest on your share when you get it - is it being held by the solicitor? Are they just not replying to any questions about why the money hasn't been sent to you?

digerd Thu 15-Nov-12 17:59:44

Does the Will state that if your mother pre deceased him, that you inherit her third ?

pippala Thu 15-Nov-12 18:23:39

Their solicitor has not responded to any letters from my solicitor since I was given my 1/3 of the house sale in November 2011!
The will left 1/3 of ALL SF estate to my DM, SSis and SB. My DM died after my SF leaving ALL her estate to me.
So in effect I now inherit 1/3 of SF estate.
This is undisbuted but my SSis is not happy about it!
She and I got on well but she and my DM didn't!

I really need to know how I can MAKE them give me my money. Surely their solicitor can not withhold it just beacuse she isn't happy with it?

pippala Thu 15-Nov-12 18:25:47

I cannot settle my DM accounts until SF estate is also settled.
My DM died two years ago!

cumfy Thu 15-Nov-12 19:07:50

Give solicitor 2 weeks to get money; otherwise instruct someone else ?

digerd Fri 16-Nov-12 13:43:36

Pippala
You say you received your 3rd share of the house sale in November 2011, which should have gone to your mother, but she sadly died too soon after your SF.
So can assume you mean the 3rd of the rest of his estate eg savings stocks and shares, furniture and other personal possessions?

You are entitled to the full 3rd share that your mother would have received as she was a surving heir at the time of his death

As far as her estate at time of her death is concerned, she did not have her inheritance, so would not be included , but you received it - or part of it- last November. - a year ago. I don't see why this should affect your dealing with your late DM's estate?

pippala Fri 16-Nov-12 15:19:11

digerd, My solicitor has told me that until SF estate is finalised she cannot finalise my Mother's.
There is no reason for my Stepsiblings not to have transferred my 1/3. The will is very straight forward and IHT has been paid, all accounts closed down, shares sold, house sold etc.
My solicitor says they can not legally pay themselves without also paying me.
The only reason we can think is that they are holding on to it because they are not happy for me to receive it?
At least three times now in the last year my solicitor has written to theirs saying you have 7 days to finalise the estate. We hear nothing back.
It has cost my over £10,000 now for two years of having a solicitor fighting to be paid what is legally mine.
With mumblechum would give me her advice!!!

emsyj Fri 16-Nov-12 18:19:45

The value of the OP's late mother's share of the deceased's (SF)'s estate would fall to be dealt with as part of her estate. In effect, because the OP is entitled to her late mother's estate, she gets the share from her deceased SF, but unless there is a Deed of Variation to provide that the share goes direct to the OP, it would belong to the OP's late mother's estate and then be distributed to the OP from there.

You can PM mumblechum OP, but I think she just does will writing now rather than probate - although she may be able to help. I am an ex probate solicitor (gave up just before Xmas last year, now work for HMRC). I think what you need is some advice from a specialist in contentious probate (i.e. litigation relating to estates) as you appear now to be in a position where you need to take some enforcement action. Neither mumblechum nor myself are experts in this area, it's quite specialist. You can find details of contentious practitioners via the Association of Contentious Trust and Estate Practitioners (ACTAPs).

digerd Fri 16-Nov-12 19:13:44

What I find confusing is that OP said she had" been given" her 3rd of the house sale in November 2011.

emsyj Fri 16-Nov-12 20:13:39

It's quite common when the estate will take some time to settle (e.g. because there are lots of assets, or it's very complex for some other reason) to make what's called an interim distribution (i.e. a part payment of the residuary beneficiaries' shares) before the administration is finalised. Then once everything is finished off, the final distributions would be made and the estate would be wound up. So it's not unusual or anything to be concerned about that the OP has received a part of her entitlement - although it is very strange that the solicitors dealing with the estate are totally non-responsive. Goodness knows what is going on.

cumfy Fri 16-Nov-12 21:55:12

£10k for 3 letters shock.
I'm sure there is more, but if these 7 day notices are not being backed up by court action, you're being taken for a very big ride.

You need to get another solicitor to sue present solicitor and executors.

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