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will related: Do the executors still have to withold the estate?

(19 Posts)
mrsnec Wed 02-Jul-14 14:48:25

I have posted on this topic before but circumstances have changed. Will try to be as brief as possible.

My father died and left me 42 percent of his estate. 2 years before he died he separated from my stepmother but didn't divorce her. Just before he died they sold their marital home. He didn't get around to buying a new house for himself. His estate was just his share of the house.

Probate was granted but one of the executors held on to it in case my stepmother objected. She served us, but it didn't go to court then because she went to the wrong court, we've since missed another date because shes been faffing and withdrew. But we weren't ready anyway as we hadn't got the medical report yet.We're 18 months down the line with no court date.

We all agreed mediation isn't the answer as she isn't capable of being rational and her demands are ridiculous.

Executors have had meetings with barristers and we've had medical consultants look over the case (to prove he was of sound mind) but it's just solicitors letters going backwards and forwards and everything going round in circles with the pot getting smaller. I've raised my concerns with the executors and they are ignoring me.

What can I do?

My dh just raised the question in the subject and I think he has a point. If we have no court date because she withdrew why can't the executors just distribute the estate it seems to me it's just to keep the solicitors busy at the moment.

mrsnec Wed 02-Jul-14 17:25:24

Can anyone help me with this? Sorry for the shameless bump!

mumblechum1 Wed 02-Jul-14 21:18:52

The executors need to cover their backs as they are responsible if anything goes wrong. Without knowing all the back ground I can't really advise (I'm a willwriter but don't do probate).

There's a poster called Poshfrock who is ace at probate and contested probate, she is your best shot. She's often on this board so keep bumping.

mrsnec Thu 03-Jul-14 09:00:14

Thanks Mumblechum, I will give a bit more info then and hope someone else comes along.

You are right about the executors. The main executor is dad's bil. A very religious man who lives his life by doing the right thing. He isn't in the will but his wife is. My db is the other executor and main beneficiary but he doesn't get too involved as he's had a breakdown over it. The other beneficiaries are dad's other sister and his new partner.

I was told by another member of my family that du deliberately promted my stepmother to object.

My dad didn't work in the last years of his life and was supported by my stepmother but the house they sold that is his estate was funded by the sale of our family home when he divorced my mum, his first wife.

The estate was about 150k after funeral costs and our legal fees it's now 115 before we've even been to court.

On 3 separate occasions we've offered a 10k settlement. She wants 75 and all her legal fees recovered.

The legals on both sides seem to be talking all the time about everyone's health issues. And they want financial statements from everyone. I haven't got a problem with either of those things but I do find it hard to believe that if it went to court a judge would award based on who she thinks needs it the most.

I also have a problem with the fact that cases like this negate the point of a will in the first place.And I stick by my guns, i would have distributed as soon as probate was granted.

How do I know if getting my own advice would help? Others just keep telling me our solicitors are doing everything they can but it doesn't look like they are and its just stalemate as my stepmother can't afford to go to court so this could go on for years.

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Thu 03-Jul-14 09:11:08

I'm very sorry, but I would think that the Executors would need all legal challenges to the will to be settled (or rejected by the Court) AND all remaining costs paid in full before the estate could be distributed. The reason being that they simply do not know what will be left and therefore how much your 42% is yet.

I am not a legal bod but am in a similar situation, awaiting settlement of DM's estate who passed away 2 years ago.

mrsnec Thu 03-Jul-14 09:34:19

That's ok Santas, thanks for your reply.

I think the frustration is also that it's not got to court yet despite having 2 dates been and gone. I think all of us probably know it needs to get to that stage.

Can I ask you about your experience? Sorry to hear about your situation too. Have you been to court yet? How do you deal with the frustration of it all? I just find it really hard to process when people just tell me 'that's the law just accept it'

We lost months because she went through county court not chancery for example and her legals didn't even pick up on it. I hope yours is resolved soon.

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Thu 03-Jul-14 09:58:42

Hi. We are at the stage where the "other party" (DM's husband - also separated but not divorced) appears to have disappeared. He has been very quiet now for 6 months - and by very quiet I mean that even his own solicitor cannot contact him and is getting frustrated!

He is not from the UK though and we cannot even be sure he is still living in the UK at the moment. He has British Citizenship & a British passport though, so could return at any time.

We have not been to Court - he wants to but the our solicitor is pretty sure that his solicitor will be advising against Court action, as he was actually provided for well in the will and she feels he is highly unlikely to gain anything else, given the circumstances of the case.

However, while the threat of Court action looms - and initial proceedings were started, albeit some time ago - we are left in limbo. The executors are going to take legal advice with regards to exactly how long we have to leave it for before they can consider the action abandoned and carry on with the distribution.

In our case, it is complete spite. He had nothing - no money, no property, nothing - when he married DM. She supported him throughout their marriage - he lived in her house & she paid all the bills and expenses as he sent 90% of his earnings back to his extended family in their home country. Under the terms of her will he stands to gain a decent sum of money - more than he deserves in my biased view, as he was/is also an abusive scumbag. He is also cutting off his nose to spite his face as his own share of the estate is obviously been held in limbo too!

mrsnec Thu 03-Jul-14 10:20:23

We have had periods like that too but she doesn't dissappear she just doesn't respond to anything it would be worse in your situation I'm sure but I do see similarities in both cases where it's all done to cause as much grief as possible.

But you have helped. I wondered too if there was something that could be done legally if you go for a long period of time with no court action and no response from the other side. I read of a similar case online that went on for 20 years and just ended when the pot ran out. My db seems to think there is a new law that protects from that.so the lawyers end up being the sole beneficiaries.I tried to find it online. Apparently it was in the press not so long ago and was even discussed on Qi but it was very complex and I couldn't really relate it to our situation. I think that's exactly what I want to know re a timescale of abandoned action before distribution can take place. Sometimes it's about knowing how to word the questions correctly.

Your situation sounds awful too. We are dealing with a very difficult character as well. She was abusive to all of us. I was estranged from the family because of it. My dad had cancer and she even threw him out of the house during treatment. He was living in a caravan whilst going through chemo.

He died before he could start divorce proceedings and even though there are legal documents that states his intention to divorce apparently they don't mean anything.

Dad made no provision for her in the will or her children (not my dad's children). She did get a life insurance payout though and some of his pension although is refusing to disclose how much. Db and I also received some from that she knows the exact figure and even started action against my du for paying that out to us. Which I think she's now dropped.

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Thu 03-Jul-14 10:39:00

Yes, while different cases there are certainly similarities!

DM also had cancer and, rather than supporting & helping her, "He" used her frail state to take advantage of her even more - including having an affair whilst she was in hospital and using her bank card to pay for the hotel rooms! I don't know if there is any medical evidence to back it up, but DM actually said that everything he had put her through mentally had left her with no strength to fight the cancer. One of the last things she said was "tell him he's killing me" sad angry.

DM also passed away before getting the chance to start divorce proceedings and, like you, we have been told that the legal documents stating her intention to divorce are meaningless too.

"He" was only still provided for in the will because she died on the Monday before her solicitor was due to visit her in hospital to alter it. Our solicitor has said that this was actually for the best though as if he had been cut out of it entirely, but was still legally married to DM, then he would have had a much stronger case and would likely have been awarded more than the will leaves him as it stands.

It's horrible isn't it? As if losing a parent is not bad enough!

Hope we both get some good news soon!

mrsnec Thu 03-Jul-14 10:59:23

I know its all truly horrible. Dad had moved on and had a new partner but she also lost her mum to cancer in the same week. But the ex and her kids turned up at the hospital during his last days.

There are some nasty people in this world I don't have words to describe what your mum went through.

My dad's solicitor did make it in to hospital to make the changes to the will and he died the next day. We were told that perhaps if he'd made a small gesture to them she wouldn't have objected but dad's thoughts were that she wouldn't be providing for us in her will and he also felt guilty that he hadn't provided for us while he was raising her children so he refused to leave them anything and made strict instructions not to. So maybe it wouldn't have changed anything in your situation if the solicitor made it in. We also constantly get the deathbed will thing thrown at us which is why we had to get independent consultants to scrutinise the medical records.

Wishing you all the best too. And yes to some good news. In a strange way though it's quite comforting to know this happens to other people as well.

poshfrock Thu 03-Jul-14 16:24:56

Sorry to have come late to this and thanks for the kind words mumblechum thanks

I'm afraid that I can't really add much to that which has already been said. The Executors can't distribute until all claims have been settled and all creditors paid ( including legal bills) as otherwise they would become personally liable for anything left unpaid. They should wait until at least 6 months after the date of the grant of probate for this reason.

Nor does it surprise me (sadly) that she is dragging this out. Her claim for £75k will based on what she would have got had they divorced during lifetime. the starting point for such claims is nearly always 50/50 ( so half of your DF's £150k estate). However, the fact that they had been separated for 2 years prior to death and presumably your father wasn't paying maintenance to her stands in your favour.

If I were an executor I would be asking for an update and timescale from the solicitors involved including a face to face meeting.

If the Executors are inactive then you could contact the solicitors yourself for an update.

Sorry not to have been able to provide more comfort. I really feel for you.

mrsnec Fri 04-Jul-14 07:11:50

Thanks posh,

You have actually been a great help.

Probate was granted 18 months ago and all our bills are settled but I suppose it would still be classified as ongoing if she has yet to reply to the last letter we put across?

At least I know where the figure came from. Half of his half despite the fact that it wad his settlement when they split. Good job they actually sold the house when you think about it. No my father wasn't paying her anything she also had all his shares though.

The executors had a meeting with a barrister. That didn't achieve much he just told us to put another letter across. We did that, she responded with the request for 75k. At that point the executors asked for my opinion for the first time. I replied in bullet points and very politely. I had no acknowledgement of that from anyone and they rejected my calls. It's been a month today. So we put yet another letter accross that I haven't seen.

It hadn't crossed my mind to contact the solicitor myself really. I suppose I'm worried they'll charge and with relations strained between me and the executors I worry I'll make things worse if they feel I'm treading on their toes. Thanks again.

Nerf Fri 04-Jul-14 07:45:56

OP, what a terrible situation. It's awful to have that kind of emotional stress and also just your poor dad to have his estate whittled away by legal fees.
Can I also hijack for a second to ask Posh something? Is it standard to wait six months? My g'dads will is not controversial, all bills have been paid and solicitor is about to apply for probate. Will she wait six months after it being granted? So could be three months to get it and then six months before distributing?

mrsnec Fri 04-Jul-14 15:27:45

Thanks Nerf.

Don't worry about hijacking the thread. Out of sheer interest I'd like to know the answer to that as well.

The thing is I know that if I was an executor I would be keen to distribute asap and keep leagal fees to a minimum. In our case probate was granted very quickly but the executors waited longer than they needed to in case there was an objection and sure enough there was.

I was under the impression that executors could distribute straight away once probate was granted and fees had been paid if there were no objections.

Nerf Fri 04-Jul-14 20:31:25

Thanks mrs nec. I'm just so sorry to hear that your dad's ex would rather whittle the money away - it seems really spiteful.

poshfrock Fri 04-Jul-14 20:52:26

Executors can distribute immediately but any claimant has six months from the date of grant in which to lodge a claim (can be extended in certain circumstances) so if an Executor suspects a claim may be coming then they should wait. If they distribute and a successful claim is made then they are personally liable for any settlement arising as a result. Of course they can try and recover the costs from the beneficiaries but what if the funds have all been spent?
If you were an executor why would you take the risk?

For this reason also Executors should always place statutory notices to protect themselves from claims by creditors which have an unlimited claim time if no notices have been placed; otherwise statue barred after 2 months.

Hope this helps.

mrsnec Sat 05-Jul-14 07:33:03

Thanks posh that does make sense. And yes there is a lot of spite involved. Eg. We were served the initial court papers exactly 6 months after probate wad granted. She deliberately left it until the last day possible.And has so far done that at every stage.

I am in a difficult situation myself at the moment. I live abroad in my inlaws investment property. We renovated it for them on the understanding that they would put us on the deeds, they never have and are all of a sudden moving back to the UK. They can't afford that without selling this place from under us. We're also selling our uk house because we can't afford the mortgage and rental value does cover it and it's in negative equity.I'm nearly 28 weeks pg and had an mc just after all this kicked off. So I hope I don't come across as greedy but the money would come in very handy right now especially since I feel I have no security at the moment at a time in my life when I need it but I do worry my circumstances are clouding my judgement.

Maybe I'll give the executors another week and then chase the solicitor myself.

Nerf Sat 05-Jul-14 07:50:22

Yes thank you posh, it's really interesting.
Mrs nec, I'm really sorry to hear all the stuff going on for you. I hope you find somewhere to live soon, and well before baby arrives smile

mrsnec Wed 17-Dec-14 08:21:07

Hi all, just wanted to post a bit of an update on this for those who helped and for those in similar situations.

We went to mediation. I had agreed with the executors prior to this with a figure I didn't want to go above as a settlement and they agreed. Just before this they then told me they'd decided against this and were going to go along with whatever the legals recommend.

They ended up giving away a third of the estate plus costs. Nearly double what I agreed to. This is because our legals decided we had a very weak case because her dependency claim was so strong.

It also turns out the executors hadn't settled the bills. It's a month since mediation and I've not heard anything since.

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