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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 30929
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Resulting from my Mother's death I am ...

Customer Question

Resulting from my Mother's death I am the joint third major benefactor together with my sisters. Their solicitor has sent me my share in the form of a cheque saying that if I cash the cheque it is my agreement to the terms he quotes. But, there are a number of things I do not agree with such as, payment of his fees; my grandchildren being left out when the other grandchildren were left something - even though my Mother showed her intent to have them included but my sister disposed of the note with their names on; and not giving me sight of other's payments of costs when mine have been denied. My husband just wants me to cash the cheque. If I do so, am I relinquishing my rights to answers and payments for my grandchildren?

The 3 of us sisters were left equal shares, however, an Addendum Mum added to her will was disallowed by the solicitor my sisters engaged. This addendum including changing the executor from one sister to my husband; included "all blood related great-grandchildren" as opposed to those named - this would then have included my 3 grandchildren; leaving my husband & I a bit more in thanks for looking after her. However, the solicitor discounted the addendum I have been sent a cheque for my share stating that if I cash it I am agreeing to the terms. However, on checking with the probate office used they state they only went on the will presented and suggested I contact a solicitor. I have written to my sisters solicitor but they have not responded. I have quieried (i) why as my Mother had showed her intent has my grandchildren not been included when the others named have; (ii) why I am paying third of his costs when it was agreed I would not need to and (iii) why I have not been sent a full statement of costs incurred, especially as my sister's denied to pay me money owed. My husband wants to cash the cheque today. If I do am I no longer able to question the points I have raised with the solicitor? And, am I then accepting their terms? Thank you.

Optional Information: 
System of Law: England-and-Wales

Already Tried: 
Contacting the probate office. Writing to the solicitor two weeks ago. Emailing the solicitor an agreement between us sisters stating that as I did all the administration work involved in 'tidying' up Mum's utilities, pensions, notices, etc. I will not be expected to pay costs they then incur if they decide to go ahead without my input. To begin with, despite my telling that a 2007 will existed they started on a 1998 will because the 2007 could not be found. In this 1998 all 3 sisters were join

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year 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.
Was the Addendum actually a properly signed and witnessed Codicil?
have you received a copy of the estate accounts?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hello, The Addendum was signed and dated by Mum & 2 witnesses, who have since died. One copy of the Addendum was sellotaped before the last page of the will and Mum had written on it that she wished it to be considered as part of her last will and testament on it. Another copy was sent to the will writers with a covering letter saying that she wanted the contents to be included in her will. This again was signed, dated & witnessed.

I have been sent a copy of the estate accounts depicting an amount paid for services given by my niece and again to my sister, but neither give an explanation what the payments are for.

I have written to the solicitor my sister contracted but have received no reply. I have asked for explanation of the costs; as Mum showed her intent to include my 3 grandchildren why they have not been included

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
HI
Have you asked why this Codicil was not admitted to Probate?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

The solicitor is not forthcoming. To begin with I was told my sister as executor had the choice to include it or not & she declined. Then they said the probate office denied it. But I sent everything to said office & they said

"The 2007 will alone was effectively proved in this estate.

If you disagree, and you have appropriate evidence that this “addendum” was lawfully executed by Sarah Neal – then you must contact the extracting solicitors and the executor ***** ***** to furnish them with this – so they may take appropriate action.

Failing this – I urge you to seek out legal advice on the various options that may be available to you to seek the redress you desire in this situation."

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
HI
Do you have copies of the document?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

yes

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
Again for clarity - the Codicil was signed by yourMother in the presence of two independent witnesses - now dead - but the witnesses were credible
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

They were Mum's next door neighbours. A elderly married couple. Obviously I was not there but I have no reason to believe they did not witness it or sign it. They also witnessed the Will. All on the same day.

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
can yu think of any reason why the Will had to be changed even as it was signed?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Mum said she was not happy with it straight away. The addendum changed the amount left to the Great-Grandchildren; she also wanted any further Great-Grandchildren my children may have to be included (the will did not take this into account); she changed her mind on who she had appointed as Executor saying that she felt a bit pressured on the day the will was written; and as it turned out she favoured my husband & I by way of thanks for all the help & care we gave her by leaving us the contents of one of her bank accounts. She had the will written a few months before she signed and witnessed it. The solicitor said the addendum was slipped in before the last page.

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
May i ask why you have taken no action until now?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I have only just been notified that Probate has been obtained and sent the final estate accounts and payment share. Although I was Mum's carer, my two sisters are older than me and we fell out when it was decided Mum should go on the Liverpool Care Pathway. Mum had a stroke on 2 Feb 2013 and died on 28 Feb. My sister held a meeting with the Consultant and although Mum might have had another six months and I said she could live with me, my sisters objected and the consultant made a decision on the majority side. After this, things went downhill between the three of us and the last straw was when I found out they

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

arranged the closure of Mum's bank account without my knowledge. Finding out they were revisiting the banks, I went with them and realised they had arranged for cheques to be made out to them. I informed the banks Mum had died and arranged for the funds to be transferred into an Estate Account I made them open together with me. They stopped being amenable then. Next I found out one had placed a caveat and they engaged a solicitor behind my back.

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
If you were aware of the Caveat - and aware that your husband was meant to be the Executor why di dyou not take action then?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

The will the solicitor was acting upon was dated 1998 when all 3 siters were joint executors. Though they knew this will had been cancelled by Mum and replaced, they claimed a new will did not exist even though I told them it did. I gave their solicitor details by she would not answer my questions. My sisters denied the will existed to their solicitor. when the 2007 will and addendum turned up (don't know where from). My elder sister was named as the executor and following this the solicitor told me I had no involvement and to back off. I was not kept informed and did not know probate had been obtained o

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

or the property sold and every thing completed until my share was sent to me by cheque. I was informed that if I cashed the cheque I was agreeing to the terms. But I don't. As I did the admin, etc to begin with it was agreed I would not be liable for a share of her fees: I have been charged a third - she said the agreement was on the old will, but no date of a will was mentioned so surely it still stands? My 3 grandchildren were not included. My sister and my niece have received extra for services, but I have not been advised what? Money owed to me has been denied. The solicitor said the probate office denied the addendum and so my husband's part has been denied.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Because the solicitor told me that my sister was given the option to accept the addendum and she refused to. Plus, they informed me the probate office denied the addendum and so I did not think I could do anything. Plus, I cannot believe things have progressed so badly between my sisters and I; I do not know why exactly and still wanted to believe they would contact me once probate had been obtained to ask about Mother's items, mementos, etc. But I was mistaken.

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
What did the solicitor say was the reason given for NOT including the Codicil?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Because the witnesses had died, it could not be proved as original and written by Mother. I feel that as it favoured my husband and I, one of my sister's 'hide' the will - I know it existed because Mum had it written at the same time my husband and I had ours drawn up, by the same firm; plus although Mum was going to arrange for it to be held by the Will Writers, she wanted it altered and said she had the copy at home - but it could not be found when my sister's and I were going through Mum's paperwork, however, the last time I was allowed in the flat all paperwork had been removed. Also, as I said, one sister admitted to destroying a page naming my grandchildren with their dates of birth, after I challenged her because I witnessed it. So I don't know why the 2007 will & addendum turned up but obviously my sisters do not want it acknowledged, and so it hasn't been.

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
I though you said the Addendum and the Will were witnessed by the same people?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Yes they were. Mr. W. Morris and Mrs. E. Morris.

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
Sorry I was just reviewing the matter - you have a copy of the addendum not the original is that correct?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Yes, the solicitor has the original.

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
Can you reproduce the exact wording (no names) please
Clare

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