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Grandparents will/estate

(8 Posts)
FamilyStress Wed 26-Sep-12 23:15:03

NC for this, don't know if I'm making something out of nothing.

My Grandad died in July 2009. My Grandma died in March 2010. So far the will has not been settled. The house ? which I have been told by other family members needs to be sold before the estate can be sorted ? is not even close to being on the market. It is in a massive state of disrepair and will need a bit lot of elbow grease and money to get it up to basic standards. My Dad is the executor as far as I am aware.

I feel I should add my Dad has a history of being financially abusive and controlling, has been bankrupt at least once, lost tens of thousands of pounds in a bad business deal once and seems to be unnecessarily dragging his feet over this, as it obviously colours how people view his handling of this. I have absolutely no knowledge or experience of what to do when people die/wills/any of it. I have been reading on the direct.gov.uk site about what happens after a death and one section headed 'Timescales' says:

?You have one year from the date of the deceased's death to sort out the estate before distributing it. After a year, you could become liable to pay interest on any undistributed assets.
Bear in mind that all bills, debts and taxes have to be settled before you can share out the deceased's remaining money, property and possessions.?

I feel I can?t approach my Dad as any time I?ve asked questions I am fobbed off, and he likes to accuse others of being money grabbing. I can?t see a way of asking about this without looking like I?m after money, so I have avoided this whole debacle like the plague. But I keep being asked by family members (from the other side of my family ? so no benefit to them to getting it settled) and family friends about what?s going on and there?s lots of noise about how long it?s taking and what is he doing and how my Grandad would never have let the house get this way etc, etc.

So?
Is 2 and a half years too long for this to have been going on?
Does the house need to be sold before settling the estate?
Is my Dad dragging his feet over this or am I getting bothered over nothing?

If this is standard I will just leave him to sort it. If he?s dragging this out for some/no reason is there anything I can do? I don?t even know where to start with any of this so would appreciate any advice.

pippala Wed 26-Sep-12 23:40:41

My Mum and stepdad died in Oct 2012. Probate took 9months and the house was on the market during the probate.
We had to pay the taxes etc before probate was granted which fortunatly came out of the bank accounts.
Otherwise I would have had to get a loan before the house was sold.
|I have had my 1/3 share of the house and my mums money.
It is nearly two years and I am still waiting for my share from my stepdad as my stepsiblings are argueing I believe and holding everything up!
I think your Dad is stalling on applying for probate. The house should be on the market?
Prehaps ask a solicitor for a free half hour consultation as your Dad has a legal obligation to apply for probate as the executor.

IamtheZombie Wed 26-Sep-12 23:55:21

Two and a half years is far too long for a straightforward estate to be settled.

My MIL died in April this year. Her husband had pre-deceased her and his entire estate had passed to her under the spousal exemption (so no IHT considerations). I did all the paperwork to apply for probate. That was submitted in June. Probate was granted in August. We have already been able to do an interim distribution of the cash assets in her estate and have instructed Estate Agents this week to sell the house. The listing should be able to 'go live' by Friday.

If there are IHT implications, the IHT needs to be settled before Probate can be granted. But, if your Grandad's estate passed to your Grandma under the spousal exemption, then his estate's unused exemption can be added on to your grandma's estate. If he left some specific legacies, these would be deducted from the IHT limit (£325,000) and any remaining balance can be transferred to use against your grandma's estate.

It sounds as though your father needs a rocket up the bum to get on with this.

(No doubt mumblechum will be along soon and correct any misinformation I've given about IHT.)

izzyizin Thu 27-Sep-12 00:14:15

Have you seen a copy of your dgm's Will? Are you and other family members, including your df, beneficiaries in your dgm's estate?

FamilyStress Thu 27-Sep-12 00:41:20

Oh goodness most of this is going over my head blush

Thank you for the replies so far. I haven't seen either will, I have no idea who the beneficiaries are. They might have left everything to charity for all I know. My Grandad did mention once that he was leaving everything to my Dad to sort out everyone, but I don't know if he meant my Dad was named the executor and would oversee distributing the estate or he was literally leaving everything to my Dad, with the idea my Dad would choose who got what? My Grandad was sick in hospital at the time so I didn't ask anything further, I was just hoping he'd get better sad

I have seen a text from my Uncle to my Dad, sent in May this year which says "Any news on probate?" which I have taken to mean it had not yet been done. However this might mean nothing, my uncle is mentally unwell and very difficult to deal with, it could be possible my Dad has been granted probate and is just not keeping him up to date with news.

I think though that my Dad has just not applied for probate yet. Would he have needed to do that to pay funeral costs/pay bills etc?

FamilyStress Thu 27-Sep-12 22:49:48

I think judging from your replies (thank you pippala and zombie!) I'm not fussing over nothing, so at least I have that as a starting point now.

Are there any solicitors/people who've dealt with this on the boards who can advise?!

Right, it would seem from what I've been reading that perhaps he hasn't even been granted probate yet. I suspect, from a conversation I had several months ago that he hasn't even really applied yet (He mentioned something about documents and solicitors not doing anything with the documents and now they were being sent back to him and he was going to do it himself; I assume now he was referring to probate although I didn't know at the time).

As far as I know nothing further has happened since then - he's always 'busy'.

I will be seeing him in two weeks so I will be able to broach the subject in person. I would like to be ready with some knowledge first! He's the kind of person who likes to run rings round people intellectually and he will likely deflect all questions and concerns with "I'm busy and haven't had time/The solicitors are causing the delays/There's so much to sort out/These things take time/etc". Whatever he thinks will shut me up and make me go away. It seems to me though he's making things harder/more complicated/more costly by delaying. Is that a fair assumption?

If he's not applying for the grant of probate is there anything I can do/anyone to complain to/anything?
Is there a specific time frame he should be doing this in? What happens if he goes over these time frames?
Is it possible he could have been running up debts on their estate while all this has been going on? I'm concerned over council tax/interest on outstanding debts etc.
If he has missed the 24 month time frame for transferring unused inheritance tax threshold etc what will happen to the estate?

Sorry for so many questions, but I really hope someone out there can give me some answers!

cooper44 Fri 28-Sep-12 10:21:40

I'm not an expert but in the last two years have had to deal with both my parents wills/estates - one very straight-forward and the other really complex.
You need to know who the solicitor is handling the probate (if your father has even appointed one? Sometimes a sol is also a co-executor) and also who is the executor and who are the beneficiaries. If you and your family are not beneficiaries then it's all a bit irrelevant anyway.
I think there are certain aspects of probate that need to be sorted within a year but I can't remember what they are - there must be something to tell you on the directgov website though? But in terms of settling the estate it can take far far longer. With my dad's estate where there are half siblings, land that's difficult to sell etc we are still no further along two years later because we have agreed to wait before selling. But I would imagine that the beneficiaries need to agree to this as we have done (could be wrong on that though.)
the executors have the ultimate power - but they have to act in the interests of all the beneficiaries - although they are in control there are also answerable to the beneficiaries I think.
I think you need to talk to a solicitor so find out if one is already involved and talk to them (as they will already be paid for dealing with it anyway). The fact that he won't tell you anything would make me concerned - it should all be out in the open esp if you are a beneficiary.

IamtheZombie Fri 28-Sep-12 10:57:22

FamilyStress, if you haven't already done so, have a look here for information.

You can apply to the Probate Registry for a search to see if probate has been granted. You should probably do this for your Grandad's estate so you know how that was distributed. That may be information you need a bit further down the line. As you are unsure whether probate has been granted for your Grandma's estate you should do a separate search for that. If there's no result, then probate has not yet been granted. There are fees for the searches, but they are very reasonable. The form for the search is PA1S. You can access that by clicking on the link "Applying for probate without the help of a solicitor" on the page I've linked to above.

From what you say, I think this sort of information gathering should be your first step.

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