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Ask Clare Your Own Question

Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 33307
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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Good Afternoon. My Uncle passed away 2 years ago at the age

Customer Question

Good Afternoon. My Uncle passed away 2 years ago at the age of 60. He was quite well off, owned his own home and had never married. I was always sole beneficiary to his will & not long before he died I got him to update his Will because I wanted my brother & sister to receive abit of money & also because my Uncle was concerned about how much inheritance tax I would end up paying. The two Executors of his Will were his Accountant & my sister's husband. A week after his passing I went to his house to start packing a few things away & to collect some of his private items, I had a shock to find the place empty apart from a couple of boxes that had old books & clothes destined for the charity shop. My brother in law had taken & was using my uncle's nearly new 4x4, 2 laptops, mobile phone, wallet, all monies & private papers etc etc. He told me he had taken all these items because it was an Executors duty by law. My Uncle had made it clear that any decisions regarding his estate was mine, this was also pointed out to people by his Accountant as personally instructed by my uncle. My uncle had owned 2 small successful businesses, was a life long passionate fisherman and medal award winning keen shooter & helped run his local gun club (his guns & cabinets were collected by the police on the day he died). A year after his death his house was sold by instructions of the 2 executors, they did so without my authorisation and for over £40,000 less than the valuation which I was unhappy about. The final estate letter I received from his Accountant claimed that my uncle hardly had any money left in his bank accounts & gave a valuation amount of his personnel effects & home contents the sum of £2000.00 which I was shocked at. He had his fishing equipment alone insured for £20,000 & business tools insured for £40,000. One of his guns I remember had cost him £12,000 when he bought it. A month before he died he had bought a brand new Zanussi dishwasher, fridge freezer & washing machine. When I queried all this I learnt that my sister had the kitchen appliances & my brother in law told me that my uncle's laptops had been destroyed by the bank because all his financial details were kept on them. Inhale just found out that this is not the truth & that my brother in law kept them & uses them for himself daily. My brother in law also kept the 4x4 which I agreed to on the condition that the vehicle was valued by a main dealer garage and a letter to confirm this was sent to me or the Accountant & money for the sale of the vehicle was paid into the estate. I never received or saw any such letter & the Accountant informed me he had agreed the sale with my brother in law & purchase had been made for £6000.00. I contacted a Honda dealer & was told a valuation of £12000.00 would be the lowest estimate on a shabby condition but my uncle's was well kept & maintained. I have also learnt that part of my uncle's fishing equipment & all tools was given to my brother without my knowledge & the other part of the fishing items were taken & kept by my brother in law. My uncle's furniture was sold to various people by my brother in law, all without my knowledge or authorisation. I contacted the police to find out what was needed to be done with regards ***** ***** guns etc & they told me the guns had already been collected by my brother in law & had been sold on. I haven't seen any documents or monies with regard to this either. I am angry & upset that my uncle's will has been handled the way it has & I do feel that something underhand has taken place & I do not accept being told my uncle had hardly any funds in his bank accounts (he also had good private pensions). Could you please advise me on this matter, I would be very grateful. Kind regards. Cindy Gardener-Collins.
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.
Have you seen the final Estate Accounts/
How was the estate finally distributed?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi.

I received a 'final account' letter from my Uncle's accountant. Am I correct in thinking that this should have been handled by a Solicitor rather than an accountant?.

I was sole beneficiary in his Will for 30yrs and had always intended to give my brother & sister some money if & when that time came. I was also unmarried with no children & I asked my Uncle if he would consider having his Will updated to include my 2 siblings, we were a close family and he agreed and he made an appointment with his Solicitor. I was asked what I wanted my brother & sister to receive from the estate and I said 1/3 each from the house sale. I was to receive any other monies and his possessions.

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
Have you actually seen a copy of the final will?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

My uncle's accountant sent me a copy of the updated Will a few days after my uncle passed away. I had a few queries with it because it wasn't very well detailed and was a poor photo copy. My uncle had always used the same firm of solicitors previously and this new Will came from someone else. There was no mention of his beloved gun dogs that here wanted his friend from the gun club to have plus £500.00 for their upkeep which was important to him and i was surprised at this because he was meticulous with his affairs. I rang the solicitors that the new will had come from and they refused to send me another copy.

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
What was the wording of the gifts made to you?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Clare.

My uncle rang me when he had returned from solicitor to let me know he had updated his Will as I had wanted and said apart from adding my brother and sister to receive money from the house sale and also adding to the Will his wishes for who his dogs went to with £500.00 towards their upkeep, everything else stayed the same in the Will and I was main beneficiary. When I received a copy of the Will after my uncle's death it just stated a three way split basically between us siblings, no mention of anything else including the dogs which was abut baffling. I spoke to his account about it and he said that my uncle had told him that I was to be his main beneficiary.

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
Have you obtained a full clear copy of the Will from the Probate Registry?
Was it made at the time you thought it was?
Have you seen the Estate Accounts?
What value was put on the various items that were sold?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi.

No I haven't obtained a Will from Probate Registry. I received a final estate account letter (from the Accountant), and a total valuation given on all my Uncle's possessions (house contents, tools, fishing equipment, guns etc), was put at £2000.00 which was ridiculous.

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
Did you challenge it?
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Clare.

Apologies for not replying sooner, we have been away a few days staying on our river boat and have not had any internet signal.

In answer to you question though, I did speak to the two executors about my concerns and unhappiness with how things were handled and I asked to see receipts from items that were sold but they told me they didn't legally have to show me anything and that I was being awkward and ungrateful.

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
Your starting point is to obtain a proper copy of the Will from the Probate Registry
https://www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inheritance/searching-for-probate-records
If you are a Residual beneficiary then you are allowed to challenge the amounts received for items - the executors are personally liable for any loss to you.
You should make a list of the questions that you have and write a letter and ask for each point to be dealt with indicting that if there is not a satisfactory response you will have no option but to take the matter further.
At the same time write to the solicitors who prepared the Will and ask for a copy of the file quoting the case of Larke - v Nogus.
I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Clare.

Please accept me apologies for my silence, I was hoping to have a copy of the Will from probate before I got back to you but there are some sort of delays with probate getting the documents out in the post but I will keep you up to date with any developments etc.

In the meantime I hope you don't mind helping with another matter that concerns me in all this please?.

At the time of my Uncle's death he was having some internal alterations to his home carried out by a builder, this work was approximately 80 per cent finished. The builder was being paid when the work was finished so he was owed money. The builder did finish all the work and was paid by the accountant. I expected to see the invoice when the final accountants came through but there wasn't one. When I queried this I was told that there wasn't an invoice because the builder had been paid cash in the hand before the final accounts were done. This implies to me that money was taken from the bank account by use of my Uncle's bank card??. I do not feel this was a lawful way of paying the builder and would appreciate your comments please.

King regards,

Cindy.

Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
That was a totally inappropriate way for the matter to be dealt with!
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Clare.

Are you able to confirm for me please if you can, whether or not the way the builder was paid was lawful?.

Kind regards,

Cindy.

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