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Problems with disinterested solicitor.

(22 Posts)
thornrose Wed 10-Apr-13 00:10:13

My dd's dad died 3years ago. He died intestate, his brother, mother and him had equal shares of a house. The set up was tenants in common.
2 years ago I went to a solicitor for advice. He agreed that my dd is next of kin and that the brother should give dd her share of the property which will be held in trust until dd is 18. He said that if necessary we can force a sale. The brother lives in the property.

Initially my solicitor sent a couple of letters to the brothers solicitor. it became apparent that the brother is not going to play ball. Since then the solicitor has basically dragged his heels for the last 2 years. He never contacts me or sends updates of costs etc.

I get the feeling he is totally disinterested in our case and I want to employ a solicitor who will actually do something! However I'm scared to tell him I no longer require his services as I intended to pay his bill out of dd's settlement, if I walk away now he's going to give me a bill I can't pay.

I don't want to do a formal complaint as I haven't got the energy for any kind of "fight"!

Any advice would be most welcome.

Collaborate Wed 10-Apr-13 07:04:53

Get your new solicitor to write requesting the file. Don't be worried about their reaction. If they've let you down then they shouldn't be surprised.

It sounds to me though like the type of case a solicitor would be careful to take on without having a clear idea about how they will be paid. How speculative is it that the house will be sold? If they would have to wait until dd reaches 18 then no prudent solicitor would work on that basis. Their cash flow would cripple them as a business. Could this be behind their lethargy? They should be communicating effectively with you,

thornrose Wed 10-Apr-13 11:39:15

Thanks for reponse, the solicitor assured me that the house has to be sold and it is a cut and dried case. It was a question of getting the family to agree or "force" them legally.

He did say it may be a long haul but he was happy to go ahead. He led me to believe he could be paid out of dd's settlement before it went into trust.

I know I have to do something but Im crippled with indecision. I think it's because I feel uncomfortable about the whole process deep down.

Boomboomboomboom Wed 10-Apr-13 12:10:18

There is no guarantee that you could force a sale at this stage, as collate says it might be years down the line before your daughter gets the money, whether held in trust thereafter or not, and consequently years down the line for your solicitor too - but I would want action now so at least you know where you stand.

Effectively the brother, mother and deceased all had a share - as next of kin your daughter is entitled to the deceased share, but does she actually need the money at this stage? To force a sale of the property there would have to be a trusts of land action, if there is no need for her to liquidise her share (do you have a safe roof over your head at present?), the court might not force a sale until she is 18, or until she needs to money if sooner in any event.

I would find out exactly what your solicitor is planning, and when, and if you are unhappy with the reply see someone else.

Boomboomboomboom Wed 10-Apr-13 12:10:42

<ahem> collaborate, sorry old chap.

thornrose Wed 10-Apr-13 13:29:45

We live in rented accommodation, dd has Aspergers and will probably struggle to be independent in the future but I suppose she doesn't need the money right now.

I'm concerned that the brother somehow loses the house as apparently he struggles to keep up mortgage payments.

I'll just have to bite the bullet and approach the solicitor. I do find him a bit intimidating which doesn't help. (That's my issue not his!)

mumblechum1 Wed 10-Apr-13 21:50:31

You do need to either go to your solicitor's boss (usually the senior partner) to get some action or change solicitors.

I appreciate that you may not get the file if there's money outstanding and no way of paying the fees but it doesn't sound as though anything much has been done anyway so the new solicitor will just have tostart from scratch.

Did you apply for public funding on behalf of your daughter (ie on her income or lack of it?)

Agree that there's no point in forcing a sale but you do need a declaration of trust so that you know that at some point in the future your dd's share will go to her.

Mandy21 Wed 10-Apr-13 21:54:18

The solicitor won't release the file until they've been paid, so you'll need to start from scratch or agree a payment plan with the old solicitor.

thornrose Wed 10-Apr-13 22:09:37

The solicitor is the only one, its his firm and there's just him.

Sorry I don't know what public funding is?

I've written a letter this afternoon. I've asked the solicitor what he intends to do next and if he wants to continue acting on dd's behalf.

The property is held on trust and my solicitor has seen the Deed of Trust, not sure if that's the same as declaration of trust. My solicitor wrote that the trust has come to an end and now the property must be sold or the brother can purchase dd's share.

mumblechum1 Wed 10-Apr-13 22:14:01

OK, do you have a copy of the deed (which is the same as a declaration)? Does it specify that it comes to an end when one of the beneficiaries dies?

thornrose Wed 10-Apr-13 22:15:11

My solicitor has seen a copy and yes.

mumblechum1 Wed 10-Apr-13 22:17:46

Good. The deed is the first thing your new solicitor will ask for so make sure you get a copy from somewhere.

thornrose Wed 10-Apr-13 22:19:15

He also wrote that "we would expect your client to purchase our clients share.....or alternatively as the postponement of the trust for sale has come to an end the property must be sold and the proceeds divided in accordance with the Trust Deed."

thornrose Wed 10-Apr-13 22:20:45

Could I write and ask the brothers solicitor for a copy, I have his details.

thornrose Wed 10-Apr-13 22:39:26

Thanks for all the advice.
I just realised I'm now crossing the line into asking for legal advice here which was not my intention blush

mumblechum1 Wed 10-Apr-13 23:31:40

If you ask the brother's solicitor for a copy they probably won't give you one because a) you have a solicitor on record and they're not supposed to deal with you direct because of that and b) why should they help you when you're the opposition?

I think in the circs you should ask your own sol for a copy.

good luck.

thornrose Thu 11-Apr-13 00:05:30

Agh, I'm such a novice.

Thanks again.

bevelino Thu 11-Apr-13 23:17:44

Your lawyer is correct but should be advising you what steps need to be taken to protect your child's inheritance. It is not uncommon for a forced sale of property in order to protect a child's interest in an intestate estate however you need legal advice because it is not a straightforward process. Furthermore all the parties need to conduct themselves in an amicable way in order to minimise protracted disputes which will waste money on legal fees. Your lawyer is not necessarily disinterested but your case will not necessarily be high priority unless you are willing to pay for their advice. In your case it is worth paying your lawyer to provide sound legal advice.

thornrose Thu 11-Apr-13 23:45:44

Do you mean I should offer to pay the solicitor as we go along, so to speak? Sorry, I have no idea of correct terminology.

Unfortunately the other parties are refusing to engage with me despite saying they do not want to pay solicitors fees. It's become very unpleasant!

mumblechum1 Fri 12-Apr-13 08:08:30

I have a feeling that because you are acting on behalf of your dd, that you may be succesful in getting public funding (legal aid), but as I haven't done public funding for years I'm not entirely sure.

I suggest that you:
1. See if there is a firm in your area which still does public funding (look on the Legal Services Commission website.

2. If so, get an appointment with the PF solicitor, pay for an hour's meeting if you have to and get their opinion on whether your dd will get PF.

3. If so, ditch your current solicitor, get PF through the other one and get things kick-started.

Unfortunately if your dd isn't entitled to PF, you are going to have to pay as you go. Not many firms will let you run up a bill of potentially at least £10k in the hope that they'll get paid if you're successful.

tbh your current solicitor really should have explained all this to you.

mumblechum1 Fri 12-Apr-13 08:12:06

legal-aid-checker.justice.gov.uk/none/

Hansard Fri 19-Apr-13 23:14:02

Unfortunately, the only way to deal with this is to speak to the solicitir again and push for action. Do not pay any money until you are satisfied that your solicitor is carrying out the work you appointed them to do. Otherwise, make a formal complaint and threaten to take your case elsewhere.

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