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Can an executor of a will do this?

(25 Posts)
FuckYouChrisAndThatHorse Thu 04-Jun-15 07:44:30

A friend has just confided in me about her mother's will. She is the executor, and has 5 other siblings. Her mother was a difficult character (to say the least) and in typical style has written out one of her dcs from the inheritance and left everything to the other five.

It's not an enormous inheritance, but it's not small either.

My friend is the only one who has seen the will. She wants to explain the situation to all her siblings, say that one person has been left out, but not say who, and ask if they'd all be willing to sign something to say that they're happy for it to be shared amongst the six of them.

I've pointed out that the will is a public document, and that any of them could read it, which she didn't know.

It's partly that she doesn't want her sibling to know they were left out (over the years it could have been any of them, it's just chance it was this one at this time really), but also she knows one of her siblings is very stingey and might only sign if he worries he may be the one missing out.

I feel really uncomfortable with it (even though I agree that they should all share equally), it feels deceptive to me. I understand the reasoning, but I worry that legally, without disclosing what is in the will (and they may not realise they have a right to see it) she's tricking them in to doing the right thing.

Any legal minds know if this is ok? I've advised just talking to them all and being honest, but it was laughed off.

MrsRossPoldark Thu 04-Jun-15 07:49:18

I would assume that a will is a will, sadly. The only agreement you could make is that everyone takes their allotted share, transfers it into a shared pot & then you can all withdraw equal amounts back out? Unfortunately that won't help the 'left out' sister from knowing it was her. If you all know that Mum was a difficult character then the left out sister might just have to swallow her pride?

I'll see if I can find out more for you?

Otherwise, ask your solicitor - that's what they get paid for & it won't be the first time they have come across a situation like this.

MrsRossPoldark Thu 04-Jun-15 07:50:14

Sorry - for sister read sibling!

MicronesiaIsMyHome Thu 04-Jun-15 07:51:46

I am not in any way legal trained but I understood the document is only public after death? From your OP I get the impression that the mother is still alive so therefore the will is not public yet.
I do think your friend is trying to do the right thing but whether it is legal I don't know.

FuckYouChrisAndThatHorse Thu 04-Jun-15 09:57:42

No, sorry, mother has died, they're in the process of selling everything off and sorting things.

I see what you mean about the will. My friend would have to give out to those who will inherit and then ask for a sum to pass on.

Whatever happens it all seems messy. I do think she should be honest.

titchy Thu 04-Jun-15 10:03:07

If a solicitor is administering the estate, and all siblings agree to a deed of variation then the cheques would come from the solicitors account and none of them would be any the wiser. Unless they looked up the will in a years time or however long it take to be public.

Allalonenow Thu 04-Jun-15 10:03:45

I think she would need to take out a Deed of Variance in order to change the will, she should get some legal advice.

FuckYouChrisAndThatHorse Thu 04-Jun-15 10:06:46

Titchy, there is a solicitor involved, so they would have to do it all through her anyway. Actually, that's something I hadn't considered. I know my friend is being so careful to be whiter than white in all the organising of everything. I know she just wants it to be fair. I just don't want her to do something deceptive in the name of doing the right thing, and end up in trouble. But I'm sure the solicitor will make sure it's legal.

MrsSquirrel Thu 04-Jun-15 13:22:59

I just don't want her to do something deceptive in the name of doing the right thing. It would be deceptive, she would be keeping a family secret, which would be dishonest IMO.

She would know who was left out, the other family members would not. It doesn't sound like a good basis for a harmonious relationship with her siblings going forward.

FuckYouChrisAndThatHorse Thu 04-Jun-15 13:47:24

My feelings exactly MrsS.

Hopefully next time I speak to her she'll have changed her mind. She's not a deceptive person, she's very honest, so I was quite surprised she'd even come up with the plan. Fine to share your portion with your sibling, and to suggest that others all do the same, so their mother doesn't get her final dig in, but not like this.

Just a shame her mother decided to do it in the first place.

VanitasVanitatum Thu 04-Jun-15 13:58:36

I don't think it's deceptive as they will know she knows and can always just ask to be told etc. she's just being nice. if one is stingy the others can still share out their portions equally between five, then just one will have a little extra.

A deed of variation is simple to produce and can be done before distribution.

Pufflemum Thu 04-Jun-15 14:07:09

Her intent is good as she doesn't want the left out sibling to be hurt, so I dont think she is being deceptive.
As long as all of the beneficiaries agree to the change then a Deed of variation is simple to create and will achieve the aim. Obviously the Will does become public so if any of the siblings wanted to look at it in the future they could. As they will of received their fair share this should only leave them feeling disgruntled with the dead mother but happy with their kind siblings!

FuckYouChrisAndThatHorse Thu 04-Jun-15 14:10:54

Thank you for all the replies smile I was really worried she could get in trouble. I'm almost certain that they all would have given some of their share to the left out sibling, without all this, "I'm not telling you who's left out!" Stuff. I know them all quite well, and even stingey brother would be likely to want to be seen to do the right thing. Just seems a bit of a palava, but then some people do react oddly where money is concerned.

Hopefully whatever happens, they can all put it behind them and carry on without a divisive influence in their lives.

flowers thanks again

MrsSquirrel Thu 04-Jun-15 14:16:25

Difference of opinion, Vanitas. I'm sure she has the best of intentions, but it would still be a power imbalance between the siblings. She would know and the others would not.

However Chris's friend deals with the problem, it's bound to upset someone. Presumably that was the mother's intention in drafting the will - to upset someone.

My mother was also 'difficult', had favourites, etc. Luckily mum just left everything to my father in her will, so no being manipulative from beyond the grave.

Becauseicannes Thu 04-Jun-15 14:21:26

No, I don't think she can do this an executor. It would be trying to control who gets what which is not what an executor gets to do. Even if she did get them to sign, it could be legally challenged.

MrsSquirrel Thu 04-Jun-15 14:22:01

Good luck Chris and please send mn condolences to your friend flowers

morethanpotatoprints Thu 04-Jun-15 14:26:43

I don't think she can do this and have been through something similar.
My sibling was left out of the will and reasons given as to why.
I was executor and have another sibling who wasn't left out.
our solicitor said we had to go by what the will stated, so the person left out will know this, I'm afraid.
Then, if you all want to club together and decide to split it with the one whose been left out, you can.
In other words when it's their own money they can do what they want with it, but before this the executor has to follow the will to the letter, by law.

tomatodizzymum Thu 04-Jun-15 14:28:38

I'm not a lawyer but my mother is and I remember when my grandmother died my uncle called my mother and said he was the executor and then told her the terms of the will. She then asked who the other executor was. He said he was the only executor. She said, by law there has to be two executors. Turns out she was the other one! He was lying and when he tried to withdraw the money from the bank he was informed that they needed both executors signitures. He had to come clean and hasn't spoken to my mother since. I'm sure this law hasn't changed and pretty sure my mother knew what she was talking about.

FuckYouChrisAndThatHorse Thu 04-Jun-15 14:29:18

MrsS, I'm sure their mother wanted to get in one final argument sad it's really sad. I'm sorry you had a similar DM flowers such a waste of effort dealing with it all. Apparently she left hundreds of diaries full of ranting and bile about anyone and everything.

Because, I'll definitely advise her to do anything through the solicitor, whatever she decides.

FuckYouChrisAndThatHorse Thu 04-Jun-15 14:32:03

Xpost, morethan, then I imagine that is what the solicitor will advise. I'm sorry you went through something similar.

Tomato, my friend and her dh are the executors, I believe, so they'll agree on most things I think. That's terrible of your uncle. It's amazing what people will do. I get really shocked reading some of the inheritance issues on here.

tomatodizzymum Thu 04-Jun-15 14:34:02

Just checked it and found out you don't need two. Obviously my mum tricked my uncle, and lied. Maybe she already knew. I hope your friend is successful in getting them all to agree, I doubt that she will be able to hide the person forever, it will come out in the wash.

tomatodizzymum Thu 04-Jun-15 14:36:50

If she left diaries of ranting and vile, was there a previous will? It might be argued that she was not of sound mind when she left the sibling out. Your friend might be able to find a previous will that everyone got an equal share. Best to see a solicitor and see if a previous one was lodged.

FuckYouChrisAndThatHorse Thu 04-Jun-15 14:45:24

Tomato grin clever mum!

I think there are many wills, I doubt any of them were fair. The rantings went back decades. She did have dementia towards the end, but her will predates that.

Pufflemum Fri 05-Jun-15 09:15:18

You really don't need a solicitor to do this (and you don't need two Executors). Check out www.gov.uk/alter-a-will-after-a-death
I am a Will writer and such changes are fairly common and simple to do providing all parties agree.

ConnortheMonkey Fri 05-Jun-15 09:31:39

I think if all te siblings agree they are happy not to know then she's not being deceptive. If one wants to know, then they are entitled to look up the will once probate is granted. They may even be entitled to see a copy as a beneficiary before probate is granted. If the executor is doing this through a solicitor I am sure she will be advised of the pitfalls and what she can and can't do.

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