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To talk to my uncle

(37 Posts)
hooochycoo Thu 04-Jun-15 12:28:09

My dad recently died after much illness. Myself and my brother and sister have had a traumatic few months and are all grieving. My dad left his house and all possessions to the three of us equally and made my sister and his brother, my uncle, executors.

Since this bereavement my sister has been acted strangely, not consulting with myself and brother about dad's estate, insisting it's her sole responsibility apart from angrily telling us both that she could do as she wanted and get in house clearance and sell the house without our input. Neither myself or my brother want to sell it yet. We are all grieving, our bereavement is only two months old.

To complicate, my uncle, the other executor and a very close relative, has had a recent diagnosis of terminal cancer. He is obviously not thinking about his executor role now. My brother now wants to get legal advice to remove him as executor and appoint one of us as an executor with my sister as he's worried that my sister will sell up without consultation. Both my brother and my sister have warned me not to talk to my uncle about these issues due to his illness.

I just want everyone to talk openly, make decisions together and compromise. Is this impossible due to greif and illness? Should I speak to my uncle about my brother and sister's behaviour? Or that unfair due to his illness? Should I just be quiet and trust my brother and sister will do the right thing ?

hooochycoo Thu 04-Jun-15 12:30:37

Is this all pretty normal under the circumstances?

fiveacres Thu 04-Jun-15 12:31:36

I would speak to him. When my dad died, some old family friends were executors of the will as it hadn't been updated since 1993! It was really easy to transfer that to my brother and I - one brief appointment at the solicitors and £20 (!) and done.

Sorry for your loss flowers

EBearhug Thu 04-Jun-15 12:43:27

I thought joint executors had to agree, inless they signed some official doc to "resign" from it.

There's a Which book on Wills, which is helpful It also covers the difference between English/Welsh and Scottish rules, as they're not all the same.

Depending on your previous relationship with your uncle, my instibcts would be to talk to him - but about him, rather than the will. Could it be he's opted not to be involved in executing the will, to concentrate on his treatment? (I guess not, if they're looking at getting legal advice.) Maybe if you have a good chat with him about life in general, he may bring it up himself. Being terminally ill can use up your energy, but it doesn't make you stupid, unless you're on a lot of painkillers, and he could welcome having something else to focus on.

Take care of yourself - it's a hard time and people all react in different ways, not always helpfully, and everyone is grieving. I hope it works out for all of you - I agree talking is best for everyone, but some may take a little more time to be ready for it (not that you necessarily have time.)

QuiteLikely5 Thu 04-Jun-15 12:53:58

Well she is only carrying out your dads wishes.

Did he state he wanted the house sold and the proceeds split three ways?

If yes then you cannot force her to change her mind!

She wants her money and she is entitled to it.

Why don't you and your brother but her out?

iwanttogotothechaletschool Thu 04-Jun-15 13:16:33

Being an executor of the will does not mean she can do as she pleases, if everything is left equally amongst you then it you all have to agree to things being sold or disposed of. Personally I would seek legal advice first before speaking to your uncle.

namechange0dq8 Thu 04-Jun-15 14:01:31

if everything is left equally amongst you then it you all have to agree to things being sold or disposed of.

That isn't, in general, true. It depends on the wording of the will whether houses are left to the beneficiaries, or whether the executor is supposed to sell it and distribute the proceeds. Leaving a house to three beneficiaries is an accident waiting to happen, as the chances of them disagreeing are high, so many solicitors would advise that the will leave the proceeds of the sale instead.

It's also a matter of debate as to who needs to agree with what. I think I'm right in saying that executors act jointly and severally, so if the will states that proceeds of sales are to be paid to the beneficiaries then any executor can sell things without the agreement of the others. If they get it wrong then they are personally liable, but selling a house which is listed in the will as being solid, by (say) taking the advice of an estate agent, is a pretty safe move. Not to be recommended, but I believe legal.

Your uncle may already have gone "powers reserved" anyway; neither he nor your sister are obliged to tell you much until after the estate has been distributed.

hooochycoo Thu 04-Jun-15 14:09:04

But neither my brother and I want the house sold necessarily, or at least not yet, not without a timescale, an agreement on what to do with the contents, discussion on who gets what. My brother and I are a lot younger than my sister and have young children who holiday there with their grandparents every year. It was also our childhood home. My sister never lived there and doesn't have children. Has no attachment to the house.
There'll need to be a compromise.
My dad appointed his brother as executor so there wouldn't be any arguing between siblings. Now he isn't able to do this.

hooochycoo Thu 04-Jun-15 14:19:48

But ofcourse neither myself or my brother know what my sister intends to do. Just that she won't talk about it and doesn't want anyone talking to my uncle either.

Hissy Thu 04-Jun-15 14:23:00

Talk to your uncle, she will sell you all down the river. See a solictor too

hooochycoo Thu 04-Jun-15 15:21:19

But my uncle has just been told he's weeks to live. I don't want to burden him :-(

hooochycoo Thu 04-Jun-15 15:55:21

I don't actually know what I want to happen to dad's house. I just know I don't want it to happen yet, or without all of us discussing, compromising and agreeing.

If a will says a person's estate is to be split three ways, do the executors have the only say in how and when this happens?

namechange0dq8 Thu 04-Jun-15 15:58:06

But neither my brother and I want the house sold necessarily, or at least not yet, not without a timescale, an agreement on what to do with the contents, discussion on who gets what

What I'm saying is that, if your sister is sticking to the letter of the will, you may not get any say in the matter.

There are (at least) two ways to draft such a will.

"I leave my X, Y and Z in equal shares"

"I leave the proceeds of the sale of my X, Y and Z in equal shares".

In the first case, you each end up with a third of a house, and the executor just needs to conveyance it.

In the second case, you each end up with a third of the net sale price and in principle the executor doesn't need to say anything to you other than ask you what name to write on the cheque. You'd like to hope they would, of course.

There'll need to be a compromise.

The executors are under no obligation to do anything other than obey the terms of the will.

My dad appointed his brother as executor so there wouldn't be any arguing between siblings.

Even if he were healthy, why do you think matters would be better?

hooochycoo Thu 04-Jun-15 16:09:10

I think my dad would have hoped my uncle would have stepped in to ensure everyone agreed.

hooochycoo Thu 04-Jun-15 16:09:34

It's worded as "estate" not house.

namechange0dq8 Thu 04-Jun-15 16:14:07

If a will says a person's estate is to be split three ways, do the executors have the only say in how and when this happens?

Yes. The beneficiaries can try to negotiate with the executors and with each other, but the ball is very much in the executors' court. Deeds of variation could be used to modify the will (in the limit, a deed of variation can be used to tear the will up and start from scratch) except all of the beneficiaries who are affected need to agree and in this case one of the beneficiaries in an executor.

Your sister holds most of the cards in this. If the will states that the estate is to be divided up and the proceeds given in shares to, amongst others, your sister, then replacing your uncle as executor doesn't really get you anywhere. In that case, your sister can (as a beneficiary) demand that the executors sell the house and then (as a beneficiary) have executors who are dragging their feet removed. She might also be able to (as an executor) sell the house herself without the agreement of other executors (you'd need legal advice). You have from what you write no grounds whatsoever to attempt to remove her as an executor.

If I were you, I'd be conciliatory and talk to her. Because in disputes between beneficiaries and executors, the beneficiaries are unlikely to win unless the behaviour of the executors is manifestly unreasonable or fraudulent.

Since I wrote the above, you posted:

It's worded as "estate" not house.

Then the executors should sell the house and give you the proceeds, unless some of the beneficiaries wish to buy the house at an open market price from the estate (and the executors don't have to do anything to make that easy). Whatever happens, when the music stops, your sister will rightly expect there to be a third of the open market value of the house in her bank account. And the executors are under no obligation to involve you in the sale at all. Had your uncle been healthy and "sided with you" to frustrate the sale, your sister could both as beneficiary and as executor moved to remove him.

Vivacia Thu 04-Jun-15 16:14:53

My dad appointed his brother as executor so there wouldn't be any arguing between siblings.

This isn't consistent with appointing her the only excuter of the siblings though.

hooochycoo Thu 04-Jun-15 16:22:59

I don't actually know what my sister wants to do because she won't talk about it. I'm too scared to ask her. The last time we spoke about anything related was when I asked her not to remove anything from dad's house without us all knowing, as I'm not ready emotionally and my brother had told me she had. And that ended in a horrible argument with her threatening to sell everything.
For all I know she has nothing but good intentions and is just grieving and not wanting to talk about it.

I'm worried about my brother wanting to legally challenge it all. I'm scared it's all going to blow up.

I never realised that losing a parent meant that all this crap would happen and you'd lose your siblings and home too. :-(

hooochycoo Thu 04-Jun-15 16:35:04

Vivacia, I don't understand your point :-) would you explain?

hooochycoo Thu 04-Jun-15 17:40:54

I don't know who to talk to about this :-(

ahbollocks Thu 04-Jun-15 17:45:06

I think you and your brother need to clear 2'3 hours and drive to meet her in person. Do you have keys to the house?

ahbollocks Thu 04-Jun-15 17:46:13

I think you should leave your uncle out of it and let him enjoy his last few weeks as much as possible

hooochycoo Thu 04-Jun-15 17:47:26

No. And we all live hours away from each other and from the city my dad lived.

Hassled Thu 04-Jun-15 17:49:27

I think you need to really try and get over the being scared to talk to her about this thing. She HAS to talk about it - I'd imagine that the not-talking is part of her grieving, but equally she has to understand that there needs to be a reasonable discussion and that you and your DB are grieving as well. If you and your brother showed up at her door, what would happen? I'm sorry for your loss.

deeedeee Thu 04-Jun-15 18:03:28

i'm not sure. The last time I talked to her was a horrible argument.
It won't happen though. She lives an 8 hour drive away from me and my brother.

I don't want to argue with my sister. I don't want to watch my uncle die. I especially don't want to do them simultaneously.

Do I need to get my head round losing my childhood home too? Is that what dad's will means? It was very short as it was made when he was very ill (with the help of my sister who had power of attorney). All it said was that the estate to be split 3 ways and executed by sister and uncle.

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