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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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We have taken over a small trust fund and before the transfer

Customer Question

We have taken over a small trust fund and before the transfer of the fund to us the solicitor acting essentially for my uncle charged the trust in excess of £5,000 legal fees. Can we at this stage have the bill taxed or better still as the new trustees do we have
any right to access the file?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Alex J. : Hi thank you for your question and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I will assist you. What was the £5k charged for? Was this for work done under a retainer? Kind regards AJ
JACUSTOMER-f5cmn7zx- :

Hi

Alex J. :

Hi,

JACUSTOMER-f5cmn7zx- :

Sorry for the delayed response. The amount of £4,320 was deducted from trust funds and was expressed to be "legal expenses in connection with the Will Trust" The schedule was attached to the retirement document

Alex J. :

Hi, Thank you. The file belongs to the trustees, if the bill is paid you are entitled to have the file delivered up to you as it is essentially property of the trust.

JACUSTOMER-f5cmn7zx- :

of the original trustees transferring the trust to my husband and myself. Presumably we cannot challenge the bill at this stage but I would be interested to know if it could be taxed or if we have any right to see the file since effectively we have paid the bill. The matter has been fairly acrimonious

Alex J. :

If the costs have been over charged you have to take the following action:

Alex J. :

(i) Verify this in the file and make a written complaint to the solicitor.

Alex J. :

(ii) If the solicitor takes no action you can go to the legal ombudsman


www.legalombudsman.org.uk/

Alex J. :

A taxation of costs applies to litigation matters. As a third party interested in this you do have the right to challange the solicitors conduct but it should be done by the regulator and Ombudsman in this circumstance.

JACUSTOMER-f5cmn7zx- :

There was actually a breach of trust or breach of fiduciary duty by the outgoing trustee who more or less threatened that the legal costs would be huge if we didn't just agree - so we did because he would have just used the funds so that they are depleted. I dont suppose there is anything that we can reasonably do at this stage. The breach of trust resulted in a loss potentially of approx £10,000

JACUSTOMER-f5cmn7zx- :

What should we say in any letter asking the solicitor for the file?

Alex J. :

Hi, Thank you. You can just write to the solicitor and say that as all fees have been settled please deliver the file and all papers to the new trustee. They will be obliged to give it to you.

Alex J. :

If the outgoing trustee has breached their duties and lost the trust £10k, then you may wish to seperately sue that trustee.

JACUSTOMER-f5cmn7zx- :

Is that the case even though we entered into the Retirement Deed. I thought there was an element of acquiescence from the trustees taking over the trust.

Alex J. :

Hi, Thank you. It depends what the retirement deed said, but you cannot exclude liability for things like fraud or dishonest behaviour, it depends what the nature of the mismanagement was?

JACUSTOMER-f5cmn7zx- :

My mothers flat was subject to an old family trust so that 50% percent was subject to a trust to pay her interest during her lifetime. She is on benefits and the idea my husband and I had was that

JACUSTOMER-f5cmn7zx- :

we should pay my uncle his share and then let the flat to pay the social services an income and pay for the mortgage on the other part and an income for us too. He had only been offered around £130,000 for the flat and he said we could buy it for 138,000 and then said that that wasnt enough and that we would have to put in our share of the freehold interest that we already owned. We asked him to keep us informed of progress. He didnt and sold the flat without reference to us nearly a year later for £134,000 having bought carpets, paid solicitors and agents costs most of which could have been avoided. Extremely annoying since I have been the main carer for my mother for over 30 years. We want to move forward now but I would be interested to see the file of papers showing the advice his solicitor gave him as trustee.

Alex J. :

Hi, Thank you. As long as he was not a client in his personal capacity then you should be allowed to take ownership of the file. Kind regards AJ

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