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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3695
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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Our mother died and left a will appointing her three children

Customer Question

Our mother died and left a will appointing her three children as executors. We put her house on the market, valued at £800,000 and within 3 months we got a cash offer for £750,000. The eldest daughter has initially verbally agreed to go along with the cash offer, but the very next day she became mentally unstable and refused to sign the papers unless she gets £770,000 (£20,000 more, which after tax makes £4,000 for each sibling). She has had a long history of mental illness and attempted suicide by jumping out of a building and is now living at the mothers house, she's drunk at 10am and not taking her medications, being abusive to the estate agent and the prospective buyers who had some kind of a personal relationship with our mother. The eldest sister is personally calling the buyers and rudely requesting more money from them "because she knows they can afford it". What are our options here? She is being completely unreasonable and abusive to people we're trying to do business with? Are there any legal grounds where we could outvote her or do we need all three signatures on the papers? Mother didn't specify anything of the kind in the Will.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you for your question and welcome.
My name is ***** ***** I will assist you.
There is a principle under English Law known as "Overreaching" - this is where the "trustees" of the beneficial interest of the property (trustees meaning two or more) can effectively overreach the beneficial interest of the property to sell the legal title to a buyer for the capital monies. This basically means that in theory only two of you would need to sign any transfer deed of the sale of the property.
This really does depend though on what the buyer is prepared to agree to and what the will says.
I would strongly recommend that you have a solicitor arrange the execution and transfer of the property if you are going to try and cut this executor out of the negotiation.
Have the buyers refused to increase the purchase price?
Kind regards
AJ
Alex J. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, the buyers have refused to increase the offer. Initially they were supposed to get a mortgage after selling their existing house, but their relatives decided to chip in and add the difference hence the cash offer. The buyers actually have to pay £780,000 gross because of the selling chain, but we would be getting £750k out of that. The buyers have explicitly said that they have no more money, because the initial offer was based on the aforementioned mortgage. The circumstances have now changed. And we would be more than happy to go with this.

How would we go about transferring the execution to the solicitors?

Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
Have you got a solicitor engaged?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes we are going through the whole rebate process and the solicitors have control of the assets until everything is sold.

But the Will states that three of us are executors.

The solicitors in question have maintained that there is nothing we can do here and that all three are required to sign the papers, but to me it sounds like a bit of conflict of interest as they are appointed to make sure the Will is executed properly. They have maintained that in spite of abusive emotional behavior exibited by the eldest sibling, she is acting in the best interest of maximising the assets, but clearly this is not the case.

Does "overreaching" extend to Wills, rather than only trusts? And would we need to get the court involved?

Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

Thank you.

It may be an issue if the will requires all the executors to sign the transfer deed. Also if the buyers know this dispute is going on in the background they may be unwilling to accept only two signatures.

Taking another approach, is their any scope to negotiate with this sister? I know this may seem extreme action but it may be worth considering having her removed as an executor by Court order?

Kind regards

AJ
Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

Thank you.

Just one more point, did all three of you apply for probate?

Kind regards

AJ
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The solicitors did it on our behalf

Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

Thank you.

I find it surprising that the solicitors suggest she is acting in the best interest of the estate if she is calling the buyers directly and interfering with the deal.

The problem is if the solicitor knew you were in a dispute and applied for probate for all three of you, then it does leave you in a slightly difficult position in that once probate is granted then you will need a mutual agreement.

Considering the alternatives do you have anything in writing that demonstrates your sister is being un cooperative. Also do you have any information that can easily show that £750k is a very fair price and represents the market value?

Kind regards

AJ
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, we have the initial valuation of the house at £800k. But she's stuck on £770k. Either way, it seems there's nothing we can do.


 


If she won't sign the papers, we have to raise the price to £770k and go with it.


 


I've just spoken to the estate agent about this whole issue and after some back and forth, the sister still wouldn't budge and I've been informed that we've lost the buyer because of this. I hope she's happy now.


 


We remain are at the mercy of the wobbling market bubble.


 


Thank you for all your help, but this was a no win situation as it seems.


 


 

Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

Thank you.

I do not think it is a no win situation, it is unfortunate that she would not co operate, however as with any market economy the price of something is based on what some one is willing to pay for it. The valuation is therefore almost hypothetical.

As a starting point have you considered getting a second valuation? This could be a way of tempering her expectations?

Also the fact that you lost the buyer I would start to explore removing her as an executor.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

AJ