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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 26069
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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Is it illegal to sort a relatives will/estate without using

Resolved Question:

Is it illegal to sort a relatives will/estate without using the executors in the will,I ask because this is what I did & now need a copy of said will as original was stolen,the solicitor who was an executor & will maker is not happy,but have I done anything illegal as it was a simple will
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

May I ask briefly what you did exactly please? e.g. did you close some bank accounts or sell a property?

Joshua :

Could you briefly summarise what steps you took in relation to the estate?

Customer:

I closed my fathers bank account & paid off his credit cards & transferred all bills into my name including Council Tax which I have paid for the last 5 years,my fathers house was bequeathed to me where I still live now

Joshua :

Thanks. How did you manage to close his bank account(s)? You would normally have to produce probate or sign a statutory declaration stating that you are entitled to the money. Do you recall what you signed?

Customer:

I think I signed some forms but cannot remember which,I know I showed them the will & my fathers death certificate

Customer:

Plus I had a power of Attorney which I prouduced

Customer:

All I really want to know is did I do anything illegal by not using the executors named in the will?

Joshua :

Thanks. One last question before I address your question - who is entitled to the monies in your fathers bank under his will and do you still have this money?

Customer:

I was entitled to everything under the terms & no the money has long gone

Customer:

It was 5 yrs ago

Joshua :

Thank you. The answer to your question is that it is not unlawful to proceed to attempt to administer anothers affairs if you are not an executor but the actions you take in doing so can give rise to unlawful actions. For example, in order to close a bank account, there are only two ways you can do this. The first is by producing probate (which from what you say you did not have) and the second is by signing a declaration that you are entitled to the money you are claiming from the bank and that the estate is less than a certain value - generally around £15K though this can vary depending on the bank.

Joshua :

If you signed a declaration which was false this can amount to obtaining monies by fraud which is a criminal offence. However I would not want you to unduly panic or worry about this for the following reasons:

Joshua :

From what you say you are the sole beneficiary of the estate and therefore the executors are responsible to you for dealing with the estate. Whilst you mayhave signed a flase declaration, you are from what you say ultimately entitled to the money you claimed notwithstanding a possible false declaration you may have signed to obtain it and therefore it is unlikely the bank would seek to prosecute because they have better things to do than prosecute technicalities. Second the bank is unlikely to even learn of it unless the executors contact them which you may be able to avoid by cooperating with the executors. Again the executors are responsibel to you for the estate and particualrly if they are professional executors it is not in their interests to take steps which frustrate you because you could seek to remove them as executors - potentially a costly exercise but you could.

Joshua :

Therefore if you are the sole beneficiary in practice, whilst you may have technically signed a declaration falsely to obtain monies I would think the chances of this giving rise to criminal prosecutions should be relatively low for the above reasons.

Joshua :

Ideally you would simply work with the executors in respect of arranging a transfer of the property, and smooth over the position as best you can with them as to what transpired in the past. One would hope that wold draw a line under the matter. There may be a question of their fees for acting which you would need to discuss with them potentially.

Joshua :

Has the above answered your questions satisfactorily?

Customer:

Yes it has thank you,I do know the bank was happy with the power of Attorney,death certificate & I know I didnt make a false declaration as the Bank were very hot with all the paperwork & it did take about a month to sort everything

Joshua :

Power of attorney ceases on death so this is not helpful following your fathers passing. However you provided his death certificate so this should not be an issue. As above the only obvious issue could be any declaration you may have signed. I cannot see how the account could have been closed without your signing a declaration which was not entirely true - though it may be that you did not realise it wasn't, unless the bank made a mistake which is possible. However as above given that you are entitled to the money anyway, my view is any false declaration signed would be more of a technicality than anything else and whilst a criminal prosecution could potentially be possble I cannot see that the bank would seek to pursue one in these circumstances.

Joshua :

I therefore do not think you should be losing too much sleep on the matter but perhaps look at the above steps with the exxecutors to bring things to a conclusion.

Joshua :

Does the above answer all your questions or is there

anything I can clarify or help you with any further?

Customer:

I have been in touch with the Executor & will get a reply from them on Friday,all I need the copy of the will for is a Visa application to say the property is mine

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