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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
May I kindly clarify with you whether your mothers estate was £15K or £150K for the avoidance of doubt please?
Did your mother make a will to your knowledge?
£15000-we only have hearsay evidence of the amount and the existence of a will.
Thank you. Have you asked the cousin if he claims your mother made a will please?
He has told us on numerous occasions there is a will and he will send us a copy 2 years later we are still waiting. He never does anything he says.
Thanks. Finally do you have knowledge of your mothers account holdings at the time of her passing?
Not in any detail. We have written to TSB and National Savings without any success we also trawled a National Banking website of dormant accounts without success.
Thanks. The position is that if your mother made a will appointing your cousin as executor then he has authority to deal with the estate. If there was no will then you have authority as your mothers child to deal with her estate under the Administration of Estates Act.
How can we find out if there was a will.
There are two principle approaches. The first is that you could consider subpoenaing your cousin to attend court and produce a copy of the will he claims to have. This is a court order requiring him to attend court with the will he claims to have. If he does not he can be held in contempt of court. This settles whether there is a will or not. However applying for a subpoena may require you to appoint a solicitor to assist you with the application as it is not entirely straightforward though it is possible to complete yourself.
If no will is produced then you can act as administrator and have full authority to deal with your mothers accounts. You can consider using the account tracing service operated by the banks - www.mylostaccount.org.uk/
What is the second approach.
The banks under these circumstances must deal with you as if you were your mother as you have full authority under the Administration of Estates Act to deal with her affairs providing you have evidence of her death certificate.
The alternative approach is to simply issue proceedings against the cousin for the money believed to be owed to you and your daughters in the county court. This is not entirely ideal because you do not have enough information to know how much you are owed and therefore would have to issue proceedings based on a guess so far as you are not able to ascertain the amount by discussion with your cousin or with your mothers banks. If there is no will and your mother was widowed or divorced at the time of her passing then everything would come to you as her only child. The cousin would have to produce the will and bank statements as part of any defence to your claim for the money owed to you.
If you decide to adopt this approach you can consider using www.moneyclaim.gov.uk though ideally you would undertake some further research with your cousin or the banks in order to try to ascertain a little more about your mothers estate by using the account tracing service above.
Is there anything above I can clarify for you any further?
No and thank you
A pleasure. If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do no hesitate to let me know.