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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22403
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street Practice
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RIGHTS OF BENEFICIARIESBeneficiaries in an estate

Resolved Question:

RIGHTS OF BENEFICIARIES Beneficiaries in an estate have certain rights. Do these rights include the following: The right to be notified when the estate trustee (executor) applies to court for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee (probate). A beneficiary may make representations to the court whether or not the beneficiary has any objection to the proposed executor being appointed Regards XXXXX [email protected]

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.
-Could you explain your situation a little more?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


The executor applied for probate at probate court at holbain london without telling 6 of the beneficiaries


he was the executor.Regards shirley

Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.


The executors are not under
any absolute duty to advise beneficiaries when they are making an application
for probate, although they are under a duty to act in the best interest of the
beneficiaries, and whatever that entails.

Is this the executor who was
appointed in the will, who has been appointed?



Can we have the background
details please?



Please confirm you are in the
UK

Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22403
Experience: PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street Practice
Stuart J and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi yes we are in the UK in essex

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

 


Hi Two questions: please

Q1

Three of the beneficiaries went to the executor with 24 questions.

He answered 6 questions before telling us we didn't see the deceased enough & the deceased thought less of us because of it, amongst other insults. This upset the beneficiaries & they left the meeting.

The executor has now said that we have 'one final chance' to ask questions regarding the will, and only through one specific beneficiary, as the other two were 'petulant' in his opinion.

Can he do this? Can't all beneficiaries ask questions regarding the will to the executor until the estate is wound up? (Which won't be for at least 20 years as there are trusts involved)

Q2

There is a trust for beneficiaries who are grandchildren to use for further education if under the age of 30, up to the age of 30. This counts out two of the beneficiaries.

If unused, these funds go into a trust set up for great grandchildren to be educated, which counts back in these two beneficiaries.

1) the executor has said it's 'none of ANY beneficiaries business what one beneficiary asks for out of this education trust'. Is that true?

2) the executor has said that the under 30 trust has 'nothing to do with' the two over 30 beneficiaries. However if unused it would potentially go to their children. Therefore, do they actually have a say in this under 30 fund being used?
Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.


He should be agreeable to
answer all the questions put forward by the beneficiaries because he will be
charging over £200 per hour for doing it. Legally, he does not have to answer
any but he would probably struggle to argue that that was not in the best
interest of the beneficiaries to answer any questions at all.

There is no final chance to
ask questions and no requirement that they all go through one beneficiary.
Please see the previous paragraph. I would probably tell him that if he refuses
to answer questions. You will refer the matter to the firm's Complaints Partner
and the Legal Complaint service at the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Bear in
mind that every telephone call and every letter would probably cost £15. He can
argue that it is actually in the beneficiaries best interest not answer endless
questions from numerous beneficiaries. It all the beneficiaries all rang with
the same query, they will get the same answer, but the estate will be charged
six times. It can reach the point where the guy cannot get anything done
because the beneficiaries are on the phone or emailing all the time. That is
most certainly not in the beneficiary's best interest.



The same applies to the over
30s trust. It's difficult to be certain without seeing the will. But if the
under 30s trust has exhausted all the money and there is then nothing left for
the over 30s, that is the way it is if that is what the will, says.



Whoever wrote the will has
left the beneficiaries open for large executor costs over the next 20 years if
the solicitors are administering the fund. There is nothing that can be done
about that. In the beneficiary, for example, wants 50 quid out of the fund. The
solicitor will probably charge £200 for administering it. Once again, there is
nothing that can be done about that provided the solicitor is only charging
time



It's not of any particular
beneficiaries business what other beneficiaries get out of the trust. He is
correct. Beneficiaries actually have no absolute right to even see the will,
although it becomes a public document once admitted to probate and can be
obtained from the probate registry for just 5 pounds.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Thanks for your answer but the executor is my sisters husband and he is the only executor and he is not a solictor how would the questions apply now. as there are 7 beneneficiaries myself Shirley (next of kin) my 3 children Natalie aged 33 Nikki 32 Warren 28 plus my sister ( married to the executor) Jeanette and her 2 children Gemma aged 28 harrison 25 .Regards Shirley

Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.


In which case, he cannot
charge, but is only under a duty to act in the best interest of the
beneficiaries.

What he is saying actually
makes good practical sense, although he cannot enforce it and beneficiaries
certainly cannot, unless there is an allegation that he is breaching his duty
as an executor and trustee in which case, he can be removed.



If it is simply a
case of him not wanting to deal with an endless stream of trivial questions
what he has actually said makes sense, although not legally enforceable

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Hi,


 


Just to go back to Q2 below - can the executor say that its none of the beneficiaries named on the will's business who takes money from the trust, even though the executor is supposed to be looking after the best interests of all beneficiaries, and if the money isn't all spent by the one beneficiary who has the potential to spend this fund (his son, still studying) then it comes to the other beneficiaries.


The executor has already said the only possiblity of the grandchildren trust being spent is indirectly (as his son is being paid to study in Australia) on flights backwards & forwards to the UK. Surely this is not 'aiding his education', but his airmiles. All other beneficiaries of this trust are then suffering because his son chose to study in Australia & not the UK.


 


Can the executor only give beneficiaries of the trust money from the trust if he deems them to 'need' it. He can't possibly know what anyone's 'need' is without seeing their bank account. But he has said it is only for those that can't afford to pay for the education 'directly or indirectly'. His son will obviously 'need' the fund in the executors eyes, because he has never had a job to earn enough to pay for it.


 


 


Also normal practice says there should be two beneficiaries - why is there only one who has all the power to interpret the will as he sees, benefitting only his family?


 


Looking forward to your comments.

Regards, Shirley


------------------------------------------------------------------------------


( Q2 There is a trust for beneficiaries who are grandchildren to use for further education if under the age of 30, up to the age of 30. This counts out two of the beneficiaries.

 


If unused, these funds go into a trust set up for great grandchildren to be educated, which counts back in these two beneficiaries.

 


1) the executor has said it's 'none of ANY beneficiaries business what one beneficiary asks for out of this education trust'. Is that true?

 


2) the executor has said that the under 30 trust has 'nothing to do with' the two over 30 beneficiaries. However if unused it would potentially go to their children. Therefore, do they actually have a say in this under 30 fund being used?)
Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.




I think you need to blame whoever drafting the will and
whoever made these bizarre requirements or the difficulty and the uncertainty
administering this.

The legal interpretation is that the money must be used
for "education, maintenance and benefit" unless the will says otherwise.



There is no requirement to have two executors, it is just
good practice.



I think it unlikely that flights back into to Australia
would come into the above category, but that would be for a court to decide if
it got that far. Clearly, the executor is acting in the interest of his son, to
the detriment of residuary (over 30) beneficiaries.



It depends on the wording of the trust, but if the
executor has the discretion, yes, he has the discretion. In which case, the
beneficiaries have to put a case forward to have money from the trust and give
the executor unreasonably refuses, then the beneficiaries faced with a court
application.



It is also nothing to do with any other beneficiary. What
a particular beneficiary has had or has not had out of the trust. The executor
is correct in that respect.



I think however there is a conflict of interest between
the executor's interest in his son and the other beneficiaries interest.
Whether that is enough to have the executor removed and replaced would be for a
court to decide. It might be worthwhile running this past Chancery Counsel for
an advice. Expect to pay about £800 plus VAT



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