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Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 34276
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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My query relates to a probate issue. I contacted justanswer.uk

Customer Question

My query relates to a probate issue. I contacted justanswer.uk last summer and a gentleman called Stuart dealt with my query.
My Mother passed away on 25th July 2010. I am the eldest out of seven children (six girls and one boy). One of my sister's committed suicide in 2009 aged 45 years old so I have one brother and four sisters who are still alive. Sadly following the death of my younger sister the family ties have become torn mainly due to the controlling behaviour of one of my sisters. Consequently certain famiy members only speak to certain other members of the family. My Mother had made a mirrored will with my Father who died in 2007.
My sister who died was a joint executor with one of my younger sisters. Due to my sister's death, my other sister become sole executor of my Mother's estate. My Mother's will stipulated that her estate was to be distrubuted equally amongst her children. My sister who is the sole executor has not made any contact with any of the beneficiaries (my siblings) since my Mother passed away. Me nor any of my siblings do not talk to her since the breakdown of the family relationships. We are now four and a half years down the line and she has not taken any action. My mother has a small amount of savings in a bank account and she also is the owner of some land in Ireland.
With regards ***** ***** land in Ireland, a solictor in Dublin had been appointed back in 2007 to deal with any issues relating to the land. In 2013 the solicitor from Dublin emailed my daughter as there were some problems relating to the neighbouring farmer. The Dublin solicitor had tried to make contact with my sister who is the executor but got no response so hence contacted my daughter who's details they had on file relating to a query we made some months previously. All in all my sister (executor) has not dealt with my Mother's estate in a timely fashion and I feel four and a half years is a ridiculous and unacceptable time to wait for my Mother's estate to be dealt with.
My sister emailed me at the beginning of the week to say that she hasn't dealt with my Mother's will because she was told not to deal with it by the family solicitor until my sister who passed away's negligence case has been settled. When I spoke to the family solicitor eighteen months ago, she advised me that my sister (executor) had told her she was not up to dealing with another will after dealing with my younger sister's estate. This family solicitor left the law firm 18 months ago.
My sister also writes in the email that none of the beneficiaries had bothered to contact her up until now!
I would like to clarify if it is my responsibility to contact her and basically chase her up on what is happening with my Mother's will? Or as an executor should she have kept us updated on what it happening with my Mother's estate?
It has now transpired that my Mother's original will has gone missing it is not at the law firm where the will was made. My sister (executor) said she has a photocopy but when she spoke to the Law firm they said that a copy was not acceptable to start the probate process but they intended to speak to another solicitor to see what could be done!! I find this confusing.
If in one breath the law firm are saying that they have to have an original will to act then what is the point in seeking another solicitor's advice?
If there is no will - what are our options?
Also if there is no will does this mean that my sister has the right to be an executor?
Has my sister got a legal obligation to have dealt with the will much sooner instead of waiting four and a half years?
She notes in her email that she has been busy with builders in her home and that at no time has anyone got in touch with her - this appears to me that she is putting the blame on me and my siblings for not getting in touch and that is why the will has not been executed.
I would be grateful for your advice please and what steps could be taken to get this matter dealt with once and for all, instead of it being dragged out for years to come!
Many thanks
Mrs Maureen Bralee
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
What assets are there?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Clare,

Thank you for replying.

My Mother's assets are approximately £36,000 in a Halifax bank account and 18 acres of land in County Mayo, Ireland.

As for my Mother's personal possessions such as jewellery she was not a woman who owned much Jewellery - she had promised her wedding ring, engagement ring and eternity ring to my two sister's - they cared for her at home up until she passed away. My younger sister (not the executor) has my Mother's jewellery in her possesion but we are concerned that because my Mother gave these rings to my sister, my sister who is the executor will challenge this.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks


Maureen

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
HI
has anyone other than your sister seen a copy of the Will?
Do the solicitors still have a copy?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi

My other sister and my daughter have seen a copy of the will.

The solicitors are saying they have not got the original will and that was kept by my Mother but I was told by my deceased sister that my Mother's will was kept in the safe at the law firm along with my Father's will.

According to the email, I have received from my sister (Executor) she met with the solicitor concerning my Mother's will and she showed them the copy of the will that was made at their law firm. The solicitor confirmed that there was no will for my Mother in their safe. They acknowledged that my Father's will and my deceased sister's will had been kept in their safe but they had nothing for my Mother. They acknowledged that the copy of my Mother's will shown to them was a will they would have drawn up.

Basically the original will has gone missing and according to my sister who is the executor - a copy of a will is of no use. However, the solicitor said she was going to speak to another solicitor to see if there was anything that could be done.

My mother's will stipulated her estate was to be shared equally amongst her children.

My Mother and Father had a mirrored will drawn up - I do have a copy of my Father's will.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Do you know if the firm can confirm that a Will was prepared for your mother?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Clare,

To make it easier for you - I have copied what my sister the executor wrote in the email that she sent to me at the end of last week. It is as follows; * Please note where my sister writes the name 'Ger' this was the name of my deceased sister, her name was Geraldine but she was called Ger by the family.

I went to their offices at the end of January 2015 and handed in documents. I went to an appointment with Stephanie Nedas on 2 February 2015. She informed me that they did not have any documents/file relating to Mum. They had a file for Dad and for Ger but nothing in relation to Mum.

A name search on their computer system did show up an R A Calvey but this data was deleted in 2008 but they stressed that this would have been an empty data file.

She accepted that the photocopy was a will that their office had drawn up but as far as she could see they did not have the original will.

She also accepted that from my point of view it would seem strange that they had no trace of Mum having even made a will with them when she did do per the photocopy on the same day that Dad had made his will.

She then showed me a piece of paper found in Dad’s file stating that we were keeping his original will and not them and this was signed by Ger and myself. She acknowledged that this was Dad’s file and not Mum’s but that it would suggest that we would have done the same with Mum’s will which I had to agree with.


I hope that makes sense?

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Are you more concerned about sorting matters out or about getting someone other than your sister to deal with it
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi

To be honest the priority is getting matters dealt with - is it acceptable in the eyes of the law that no contact has been made by my sister to any of the beneficiaries?

It is four and a half years since my Mother passed away and nothing has been done and she put the blame on me, saying that I had not got in contact with her!

My sister is extremely slow to act and in truth to use the phrase "She makes a mountain out of a molehill'.

What would your advice be?

Thank you.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
You are correct - it was for your sister to deal with the matter - or to approach you all as beneficiaries and say that she did not feel able to deal with it
Having said that she has not committed any offence and all it means is that you have grounds to apply to have her replaced as Executor if you so wish
There are two possible ways forward.
It is in fact possible to apply for Probate using Copy Will provided evidence is given that there is no reason to think that the Will has been replaced and the circumstance sin which the Will was lost are explained
Alternatively it is possible to apply for Letters of Administration base don the fact that there is no valid Will.
Either way the result is the same since the assets will be equally divided between the siblings - but in fact any of you can apply for the Letters of Administration - not just your sister
I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you Clare,

Please could I ask

1) Am I right in thinking that my sister should have contacted us after my Mother's death - let's say within a year to notify us as to what was happening with my Mother's will. What would be classed as an acceptable length of time for her to have contacted the beneficiaries?

2) The problem we have had is that she keeps saying she is waiting for a solicitor to get back to her or that she has builders in her home and chaos to deal with! Then she says she will get back to us in due course and we don't hear from her until weeks/months later. Basically she is constantly stalling things? If she continues to deal with my Mother's estate - has she got an obligation to keep us updated?

Many thanks

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Yes it is reasonable to have expected her to contact you - and yes she should have dealt with the estate promptly - but your only sanction is to apply to have her replaced
http://www.step.org/tackling-troublesome-executors
Clare
Clare and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Clare,

Thanks for your prompt replies and for your help and advice. It is much appreciated.

I appreciate the link you attached to your last message, that is most helpful.

Kind regards

Mrs Maureen Bralee

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
You are most welcome - I hope all goes well
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Clare,

Sorry I forgot to ask you one question, can I ask my sister for a copy of the will that she has in her possession? Am I entitled to be given a copy?

Thanks

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
legally no - but in the circumstance sit i snot an Unreasonable request
Clare