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Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 33946
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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Do we have to have agreed to a fee structure before a solicitor

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Do we have to have agreed to a fee structure before a solicitor begins to charge me?
A relative died intestate and we were tracked by "heir hunter" . The estate was about to be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy, when a "will" turned up. Suspicions were raised, especially as over a year had passed to when the will was presented. All parties, including the new "beneficiary" agreed that the will could be subject to the opinion of a handwriting expert, which would be paid the estate, only beneficiary to later change her mind!
The solicitors estate now say the expert opinion can't be paid the estate, and the seven of us are now equally liable solicitors fees since the validity of the will was questioned. We have never been presented a letter of engagement, nor signed anything. I have never given the firm of solicitors any directions.
Thoughts please?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.

Thank you question.

I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
Have you checked the papers that you signed Hunters does not refer to Solicitors fees?
What was the outcome of the report?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you back to me Clare.

Solicitors instructed Title Research as no will was found, including a search of the house, local solicitors and Certainty.co.uk

Nothing was signed with title research (they found 7 heirs), nor requested, and nothing was signed with the solicitors, again, there was no instruction or fees pack.

Regards,

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you back to me Clare.

Solicitors instructed Title Research as no will was found, including a search of the house, local solicitors and Certainty.co.uk

Nothing was signed with title research (they found 7 heirs), nor requested, and nothing was signed with the solicitors, again, there was no instruction or fees pack.

Regards,

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.

Thank you .
Who has actually been granted the Letters of Administrator of the Estate - and what was the outcome of the report
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

A Grant of Letter of Administration was given to a fist cousin of the deceased, who would also be a beneficiary if our relative died intestate.

I have not seen the content or terms.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.

Sorry - - has the handwriting report actually been received?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We have had our own expert give a 1st opinion, and not involved the solicitor.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.

Has the "Will" now been admitted to Probate?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I don't think probate has been granted as the will is contested?

The witnesses signatures to the will are illegible, and there are no names or addresses. The executor and beneficiary to the will is the only person who can identify the signatures.

I came across this ...

"


Presumption of due-execution


A will will be presumed as being duly executed if on the face of it, it is properly executed.

Courts have been and continue to be robust in their application of the presumption of due-execution. In order to contest a will on the grounds of lack of due-execution, strong evidence is required or the court will revert to the application of the presumption. , in the case of Channon v Perkins [2006], although both witnesses were sure they had not signed a document in the testator’s presence, the court characterised the witnesses’ evidence as a mere failure to recollect. Witnesses therefore need to positively remember specific events where something went wrong with their execution. It is also helpful if they can be traced to give evidence of lack of due execution. , in the case of Murrin v Matthews [2006], the presumption was rebutted because although the will was signed by two witnesses, there was no address given nor could they be found. Since the sole beneficiary of the will was “overwhelmingly likely” to have been involved in the preparation of the will, and there was no evidence by the witnesses as to its execution, the will was found to be invalid

Regards,

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.

You have correctly identified the relevant case in this matter (Murrin v Matthews) and there is little chance that this new Will will succeed.
On that basis the Letters of Administration stand and any costs related to defending this claim are a legitimate cost of the estate
The only caveat I have is that if the report was not commissioned via the Solicitors then no the cost cannot be reclaimed from the Estate.
However as you so rightly point out you cannot be liable costs regarding the Administration of the Will since there is no Contractual relationship between you
Having said that if you do wish them to continue to contest the "Will' on your behalf rather than simply bowing out and allowing it to go forward then you will have to sign a Client Care letter and accept the potential liability
Please ask if you need further details
Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 33946
Experience: I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
Clare and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you Clare

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.

You are welcome - I hope all goes well
Clare

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