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Deceased mum's estate

(4 Posts)
frantic51 Tue 14-Jun-11 16:11:57

Hi, I wonder if anyone can help? It's a long story, I'll try and be as brief as possible.

Mum died 5 days before Christmas.

Registered the death and notified solicitor holding original of will, who gave me a list of information he needed regarding mum's bank accounts outstanding bills etc.

Got all this information together eventually, after the setbacks of Christmas, New Year, funeral, getting the children back to school, ongoing divorce complications etc, and sent it to him the beginning of February.

Heard nothing until March when he wrote with his terms and conditions.

When sister and I (joint executors) realised how much he was going to charge we were astonished as there was so little left in mum's accounts after bank had taken out funeral expenses and the only other asset was mum's small flat in sheltered housing complex which obviously needs to be sold.

Rang CAB who said that we could get probate ourselves and didn't need a solicitor.

Rang the solicitor and told him, very sorry but could not afford to pay that amount of money and that we would get probate ourselves, please send original of will to facilitate.

He wrote a long letter telling us how difficult probate was and "strongly advising" that we let him continue and that he had racked up £530 + VAT in costs already.

Rang back and said please send itemised bill of costs so far, please do nothing else as we can't afford to incur more expense and, again, please send original of will so that we could get probate.

He wrote back refusing to send will, insisting that someone pick it up. Again telling us that we could get into serious difficulties applying for probate ourselves and sending bill for £1300 + as he had included £350 + VAT "costs" for selling the flat which he claims mum enquired of him two years ago. (To our knowledge the flat was never actually put on the market) and "costs" of £175 for "advising on power of attorney" in November of last year (one phonecall from mum enquiring of costs to do this, one letter from him detailing costs and one phonecall from mum to tell him it was too expensive to do it through him and we would sort it ourselves - never completed as she went into the hospice the following week and never came out).

Rang back and asked him for proof of mum's authority to act in proposed sale of flat etc also asking why his breakdown of the £350 + VAT for work on probate included letters to and from bank and utility companies to find information which he had asked me to supply. (I had written to/ rung all these people myself to get figures)

He insisted on one of us going in to see him to "discuss". I went and had a very uncomfortable half hour while he again tried to coerce me into using him for probate and arguing about why he had no agreed terms signed by mum for proposed sale of flat two years ago ( he had an application form from an estate agents signed my mum but nothing else, rang them and they had no record of flat ever actually being registered with them for sale) I asked for proof of the work he had done regarding this and he said he would send it on.

Finally got will from him and applied for and got probate with no problem at all.

Got letter from him with a list of supposed work, just a printout of letters/phonecalls in and out regarding proposed sale of flat two years ago.

Wrote back saying all well and good but please supply actual copies of written correspondence not just printout of supposed work and please forward deeds to the flat as we needed to sell. Pointed out that his charges were against the estate and the estate could not even begin to address the issue of his account until we had realised the only asset (the flat) as he knew very well, having seen the bank statements, that there were virtually no other funds.

Has written back demanding settlement of bill in full within seven days, no mention of deeds.

What do we do now?

Collaborate Tue 14-Jun-11 16:31:21

You could write to his firm to make a formal complaint. Complain about all of the bills he says are outstanding. sounds like he didn't have authority to incur most of the bills, although perhaps something might be payable for a small amount of work done when you first contacted him. He shouldn't have incurred £530 plus vat without informing you initially verbally and then in writing about the likely charges.

If you get no joy with an internal complaint, you can take the complaint to either the SRA or the Legal Complaints Ombudsman. I forget which deals with what complaints now.

mowbraygirl Wed 15-Jun-11 21:15:32

You do not need Deeds of your late mothers flat to sell it. All information is now stored on the Land Registry computer. We were told this by our buidling society when we requested the deeds to our house they had been holding for years since we paid off our mortgage, we just wanted them as some sort of keepsake.

As you have found out probate is easy to obtain for a small estate as your mothers.

frantic51 Wed 15-Jun-11 21:21:44

Thanks for that Mowbraygirl, that is such a relief!

I have actually spoken to the Legal Ombudsman as well though and have started the process of official complaint with a letter to the senior partner at the firm today, so thanks to Collaborate also. smile

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