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Getting a solicitor to renounce executorship of a will

(22 Posts)
whataboutbob Tue 24-Jan-17 20:32:14

Hello, I am hoping for some more excellent advice. A few threads down i asked for help in tracking down a will (solicitor closed down), I have found the practice it was transferred to.
The will names me and the solicitor as executors, and me and my brother as beneficiaries. I am not legally trained, but I was sole executor for my mum's will (I got the bank to renounce, although it was a long time ago and I can't really remember how I got them to agree). I'm meeting the solicitor on Thursday, how likely are they to renounce, and what is the best way of encouraging them to do so? Thank you.

whataboutbob Tue 24-Jan-17 20:34:42

A bit obvious really but just to clarify I want to do the work myself to keep costs to a minimum. I am nervous of racking up legal bills and not having any control over what they'll end up charging me. I'm also quite good with paperwork and bureaucracy, having managed all of dad's affairs over the last 5 years as his Power of Attorney, so I feel up to the job.

Collaborate Tue 24-Jan-17 23:21:32

They can only charge if they have retained their practising certificate, which is unlikely. Look them up on the Law Society website - google findasolicitor.

If they are on that, they have a PC. If not, they don't.

Collaborate Tue 24-Jan-17 23:21:58

Oh, and they would need to be working for a recognised practice and have insurance.

whataboutbob Wed 25-Jan-17 18:10:45

Well I found the practice that the original solicitor passed his business on to (I imagine he's retired). I have contacted them and they seem to assume they'll be handling the will. unfortunately for me the original solicitor put a clause in the will to the effect that anyone he sold his business to would become executor (along with me). I have an appointment tomorrow and am still hoping they'll agree to renounce, but a google search seems to indicate they don't have to. Oh dear. Any advice on how to approach tomorrow's meeting would be welcome.

EnormousTiger Wed 25-Jan-17 21:34:21

I thought it was usually fairly easy to persuade them not to and in fact can't you force them? In our case my father's solicitors were executors with us children and I said we would do it instead and the solicitor just handed it straight over even though loss of revenue to them. I spent 100 hours on it by the way so don't take these tasks on lightly!

I found this
"We took this accusation to Barclays, which said that it acts as executor in only a minority of cases and its policy is to step down when asked to do so by a beneficiary"

I would just go in there saying you assume there will be no problem with their renouncing their role as executor and just bluster through on that basis. Say it early on so they have not spent any time or wasted their own money on the case so far and say you will take it from there and can they hand you the original will.

whataboutbob Thu 26-Jan-17 09:36:31

Thanks Enormous I have the appointment today so will post again to let you know how it went. I'm hoping the fact that I was Dad's power of attorney for 5 years is proof I can manage the paperwork and bureaucracy of probate.

whataboutbob Thu 26-Jan-17 17:47:07

Well it didn't go as easily as I'd hoped. I outlined my reasons for wanting to be sole executor and why i would be up to the task but she said it would be unusual for them to relinquish their role, that there would be IHT to pay and they could be liable to prosecution if I didn't pay all IHT correctly. She said she was going to discuss it with the senior partner and get back to me.

EnormousTiger Thu 26-Jan-17 20:02:08

Well good luck with it. It may be worth calling the Law Society to see if they can give you an answer to this. We had absolutely no problem in persuading my father's law firm to give up their joint role (with us his children) and we did that to save on legal fees obviously. They just agreed. Surely if they renounce then there is no IHT liability or you could agree in writing fully to indemnify them (pay them) any losses on the law firm if you mess it all up.

whataboutbob Sun 29-Jan-17 15:12:40

Thanks enormous. I m still going to try and get them to renounce but if not will try and bargain them down on price by doing as much of it as I can and just letting them do the more complex stuff like IHT calc and transfer of house deeds. Will post again to say how it goes.

dazzlingdeborahrose Mon 30-Jan-17 15:05:52

My dad had his will drawn up by a solicitor who added himself as an executor along with myself and my brother. I just told them their services weren't required and I would be handling the estate. We had to pay £180 for the privilege of the solicitor removing himself as executor. I think it was a deed of renunciation? Anyway seems fairly standard practice for solicitors to add themselves as executors to make some easy money.

whataboutbob Mon 30-Jan-17 19:28:48

Yes , having read around the topic many add themselves in and I doubt that my Dad, who was pretty parsimonious, realised just how much it will cost in the long run. I strongly believe lay persons can do much of the work that solicitors routinely get paid to do. Unfortunately, if they are named in the will as executors, legally you can't force them to stand down.

EnormousTiger Tue 31-Jan-17 08:01:09

It's very interesting that my father's law firm just stepped down when I told them to. I don't remember asking, but it seems like legally they could not be required to do it so I was just lucky?
Presumably if you know the family don't want you to act it must surely be hard to form the right professional relationship and surely they'd just stand down? I certainly would never act for anyone who didn't want me. With my mother's death when the same solicitors did probate (she died before my father) I still had to spend quite a time searching the house for papers, share certificates etc and give them the data so the process certainly depended on co-operation between the family and probate solicitor.

whataboutbob Tue 31-Jan-17 12:59:51

Thanks Tiger. Legally they really don' t have to. I was reading up on test cases as some people have gone to court to get rid of professional executors, but it can obviously get very costly and there's no guarantee you'll win. Still waiting to hear back from them after our meeting last Thursday, if I don't hear anything I'll ring them.
I remember I got the bank to step down from my mum's will and ironically they agreed straight away (they're supposed to be worse than solicitors in that respect) but then again mum's estate was not worth much compared to Dad's.

dazzlingdeborahrose Tue 31-Jan-17 21:48:40

There's nothing however to say that the solicitors must lead on the probate. So even if they refuse to step down, the other executors can agree that one of the others will handle the estate. An executor does have a legal obligation to act in the best interest of the deceased's estate. I don't know how complex your fathers estate is. My fathers was relatively simple in that there was only my brother and myself and we fell just outside the iht bracket so a solicitor was truly unnecessary.

dazzlingdeborahrose Tue 31-Jan-17 21:56:35

Sorry. Me again. You're also under no obligation to use the solicitors probate services just because they are named as executors so it may be worth getting quotes from other solicitors and private services for the work involved.

ChickenLicken22 Wed 01-Feb-17 00:59:45

State that you want a fixed fee for doing all the work, get a client care letter stating the same and the work might become less attractive to them.

EnormousTiger Thu 02-Feb-17 13:49:29

And executors can leave it to one of them eg with my father the law firm and we 3 siblings were named as executors. Law firm backed out at my request. My 2 siblings chose to leave it to me and we were all in agreement on that although I sent them daily emails of everything I was doing of course and it was all much much quicker and more efficiently done as it was top priority being our own family.

thesandwich Thu 02-Feb-17 14:05:10

Hi bob how are you doing?
We had wrangles with the solicitor re wills- the one holding fil's will closed down and transferred the wills without our knowledge to another firm miles away. We wanted it released as we wanted to use another solicitor or do it ourselves- but it took a bit of arguing and we have it.
Would involving a new solicitor be an option- to instruct them to step down as they were not named? And then do it yourself?with an appropriate letter to absolve them of liability? Our situation is less complex as we won't hit iht but the fees would have been huge and we do need to provide all the info.... good luck.

whataboutbob Thu 02-Feb-17 19:32:40

Hi Sandwich! (waves). The situation with dad's will is much as the one you describe with your FIL. Dad originally wrote his with a solicitor, who i happen to know was a friend from his church. This solicitor retired and passed the practice on to the current one.
I have just had a very bossy letter from them saying they are not going to renounce. Their stated reasons are that my father apparently knew the original solicitor had passed his practice on and he didn't change his will. Also there will be IHT " and therefore a considerable amount of work". (thus no doubt paving the way for a big juicy legal bill). And finally "it is unusual for solicitors to step down if another professional is not stepping in".
I am going to challenge this on the grounds that 1) my father trusted me as evidenced by the fact that he made me co executor, and also gave me power of attorney. 2) his relationship was with the original solicitor. 3) I did all the work on my mother's estate and am competent to deal with probate.
Does anyone know whether he fact that an estate is taxable does really mean a lot more work is involved? I've read up on it and can work out the calculations and also add in my mum's nil rate band from the year she died, is there really a lot more to it than that?
Thanks for any advice you can give.

thesandwich Thu 02-Feb-17 19:51:41

Sorry to hear you are having such hassle. We have found the probate helpline very useful( number on the forms) with every query. Just telling the solicitor we had our own solicitor seemed to do the trick- they were not an executor though. Do you have a friendly solicitor you could say was dealing with it even if it is only a part of it?
Good luck- I also wonder if the marvellous mumblechum on here may have any wisdom?

whataboutbob Fri 31-Mar-17 17:57:25

Just an update in case anyone else faces this kind of situation.
I sent a very bossy letter back outlining why I was more than capable of doing it myself (I had POA for 5 years, did my mum's probate). She then said she wanted my brother's perspective (fair enough) and finally said he said he'd rather it was her (he told me he didn't mind).
However I got it in writing from her that the fee would be in the region of £3000+VAT which I think is reasonable so I have accepted. I just want probate to be obtained, not least because fees go up massively in May.

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