How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 34263
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
13262538
Type Your Law Question Here...
Clare is online now

2 1/2 years ago my Mother-in-law passed away and estate

Customer Question

Hi, 2 1/2 years ago my Mother-in-law passed away and estate left to my husband and b-i-l.He, and a close lawyer friend are execs.4 yrs before her death Mum was in a care home b/c of sev. dementia, and b-i-l rented her flat and kept the rent.We live in the US and didn't even know!The execs refuse to add this rent to the estate-is there anything we can do?Also the execs mailed some v.val.jewelry of Mums to our daughters in 4 small packs. All 'lost' in post-what value should be placed on this?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 1 year ago.
Hello,
I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.
I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.
Thank you!
Nicola
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
HiThank you for your questionMy name is ***** ***** do my best to help you but iIneed some further information firstHow do you know that he kept the rent and what was the probate value of the jewellry?Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
HI Clare,
Thanks for your response, and apologies for the delay in getting back to you, but they had the wrong e-mail, but have sorted it out now! (***@******.*** is correct)
1) Because he said"Mum had told him he could",because of everything he was doing for her!!!! Highly unlikely! She was in a full time care home because of severe dementia!!! We didn't find out he had even rented her flat until we went over for her funeral, then when we asked about the rent, he said he felt 'coy' about telling us as Mum had said he could keep it all rather than share it!!!!!( Mum always shared between the boys equally, and our guess is that in her poor state of health she never knew the flat was even let! She certainly never mentioned it to us, and had lost awareness of nearly everything-never asked even about her grandchildren anymore, which was really telling -but our weekly conversations really only focused on trying to calm her, as she was very confused and distraught due to the illness and being in a strange place.) We have mentioned this to the lawyer several times, but our direct questions on this have been ignored every time!
2. The probate value of the jewelry was 8,190 pounds sterling. It was very odd how all 4 pkts went missing. They did have tracking numbers, and as we were assured by Parcel Force, that they did enter the huge container to go to NY, it seems odd that all 4 should have been separately stolen. As I said we had agreed they should be sent via courier due to the value, but more the sentimental value, so why they decided to do go with P.Force is bizarre and irresponsible quite frankly. It's all very suspicious, but unfortunately my brother -in-law and his 'buddy' lawyer who are the executors are not the most honest people at all, ( b-i-law is an expert at evading taxes,( claims he has no relationship with the tax man) despite being a millionaire, and has pulled numerous other 'stunts' over the years) and the lawyer will not stand up to b-i-law-even if it means breaking the law. B-i-law's Captain at Ilkley Golf Club, and trust me I know how that works. Sad but true!!!! Thanks!
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Did the Executors insure the packets?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes, but the replacement value was very low compared to valuations we have since had done on an item we brought by hand. They were undervalued in an effort to reduce taxes on the estate.
Re: the rent, B-i-law 's solicitor now says that because he paid taxes on the 4 yrs rent he kept, (without us even knowing the flat was rented!), it could in no way be considered a gift!! He took expenses out of the estate for maintaining the flat etc, so I'm not convinced pocketing all the rent with no written agreement and only his word is legal -do you? Thanks!
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
For clarity - was the money used for maintenance before or after the mother's death?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Clare,B-in -law now says that the 4 yrs rent money wasn’t ‘a gift’ simply BECAUSE he declared it on his taxes!!! The fact is he didn’t earn it-other than by letting the flat etc, and it’s v. unlikely Mum would have told him he could keep it as that would have been out of character, plus she was totally unaware of what was going on due to severe dementia, which is why she was in a 24/7 care home! Is he really entitled to keep all the money just because he paid it into his bank account and for once declared it on his taxes? The estate was split 50:50, including the flat/rent after Mum’s death, between the 2 brothers. Yes, they did, for second 'hand-replacement value', but the valuations are much lower than actual second hand replacement value, as we found by revaluing 1 piece my husband brought back from UK when he visited. We then got it insured for replacement value and it was nearly double the UK valuation from the lawyer. He doesn’t want to increase the value of the jewelry as it will increase the value of the estate and incur more taxes! Thanks.Tina
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
You said that money from the estate was used to maintain the flat - was this before or after the mother's death?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Both actually, but after Mum's death b- I n- law started paying the rent into the estate as it was left jointly to him an my husband. Thanks Clare! Tina
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
How much was the rent?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Clare, It started out at 643 pounds/month, in 2009, now it is around 750 we think , altho' despite asking repeatedly for a copy of a 'joint landlord agreement with my husband's and his brother's name on it , ( showing the rent paid ), we have not been sent one with the exact amount on it. It should have been drawn up in Oct. 2013, or close to, when Mum passed, and they became joint landlords.  B-in-law and lawyer are just ignoring requests; we have even offered to pay to have the lawyer who is also executor draw one up, but still no luck!!! Thanks, Tina
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Sorry - for clarity again - the rent is NOW paid to the estate?How much is actually in dispute?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes since Mum's death when her will stated that her estate be shared equally between the 2 brothers , b-i-law has paid the rent into the estate. The amount in dispute is roughly 4 years, rent (48 months at about an average of 650 pounds/mo), when she was still alive but living in the care home, and b-in-law decided to rent her v. nice flat in Ilkley. We don't know the exact amt, because b-i-law says it's his, so not our business, and as he's paid taxes on it then there's NO WAY it can be considered a gift!!! That makes no sense to us, as there was nothing in writing from Mum; it was out of character for her to do such a thing, and more to the point she had severe dementia and could not even carry on a conversation, at the time when her flat was let. She had handed power of attorney over to b-in-law probably1-2 yrs before that.!!!! Big mistake:-( So,the estimated amount in dispute is probably at least 31,000 pounds, half of which we feel should go to my husband and half to b-in-law. He also took it upon himself drive his daughter's car ( which Mum had given to her to use, when she could no longer drive.) from his ex-wife's forecourt, while she was at University in Edinburgh and trade it in towards a new Aston Martin!!!!! My niece then had to use the bus 1 hr each way , or stay overnight where she was working, if the last bus had left. We found out about this from his ex-wife, not b-in-law, and it was ridiculous because the amount he received was negligible compared to what he paid for the Aston, yet my niece had an older, but low mileage, well maintained car stolen from her-he didn't tell her either!!! He wasn't going to include that in the estate either until we pressured the lawyer after we found out!Thanks Clare, Tina
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Ok thank youSo for clarityWhilst she was alive he kept the rent but tok maintenance from the mother's accounts is that correct?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes-correct. Actually pretty sure he took quite a lot more out of her account also but impossible to prove without seeing the accounts! Thanks Claire:-) Tina
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello again Claire, -just decided to take out a monthly membership , so wanted to ask you another question please.
Part of Mum's estate included a period cabinet with 23 pieces of ivory-again to be split equally re: her will. As the jewelry our daughters were going to have was all 'lost' they asked if they could have 3 each of the 23 to remember Granny by. B-in-law sent us photos, but has now decided the pieces constitute a 'collection' which shouldn't be split. We don't want any, but the girls do, and they cannot afford to ship, or have the space for the whole 'collection'. He no doubt realizes this !There was nothing in Mum's will that said it had to be kept together and the 17 pieces that would be left for b-i-law would still be a very decent 'collection', plus as part of the estate it should be split equally in theory surely? (The ivory has many pieces from the same period, but a sig. number that are marine not animal ivory, and it was bought over a period of many years not as a 'collection'. My daughter has now paid for 6 pricey import permits, (with an expiration date, which is fast approaching!). He knows this as copies have been mailed to him in Yorks., but now he is deliberately refusing to move forward, and let the pieces go, so pretty soon the permits will expire. How is he legally able to demand that it all stays together? We have said that if he wants some of the pieces they do, we can all compromise, but still no action-he wants to keep it all for himself! Mum made her biggest mistakes when she appointed b-i-law and his lawyer buddy to be executors. It's 2 1/2 years already and nothings finalized:-( Sorry this is so messy, but I don't feel we can trust this lawyer anymore than b-i-law; he seems happy to break the law to not upset his golfing partner! Thanks!
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
There are so many issues here - and with you so far away it makes it more difficult for you to deal with.How much of this is done in writing ?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The communications are in the form of e-mails from b-i-law and e-mails from the lawyers 'legal assistant'. Would it help if I called when you're online? I have a plan for landline to landline, but landline or cell, to cell internationally is really prohibitively expensive. Would Skype work for you-that's free, or Viber if you have a smart phone-free also? I know it's a big mess:-(
Thanks, Tina
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
I think you need to write two very formal letters - and also consider instructing a solicitor local to the area to act on your behalf.The letter to the solicitor should point out the following1. Remind him that as a named executor he is personally liable to the Beneficiaries for the correct handling of the estate2. Remind him that he is an Officer of the Court (all solicitors are)3. Point out that at the time his co-executor is saying that his mother told him to keep the rent she had already been diagnosed with dementia and did not have capacity to make that decision4. Point out that the actions of his co-executor during the period were a clear breach of his duties as the person holding power of attorney5. Ask what actions he intend sto take regarding these breaches and inconsistencies.6. Say you expect a reply from him IN WRITING and that failing that you will be reporting him to the Law Society for a breach of ethics.7. Point out that it is clear that the jewelry was undervalued and that you require site of the valuations in order that you can seek advice - and remind him of point one.8. Say that there is no reason why the Ivory should be sold as a collection and that accordingly either it is divided 50/50 between the beneficiaries or alternatively that ALL the pieces are sold and the monies divided between the brothers and that you will require evidence that the best possible price has been secured - remind him of point one.9, Say that you require an answer from him in writing in accordance with his professional responsibilities and that answer is required within 21 days 10. Say that if the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction you will instruct a solicitor to apply for them both to be replaced as ExecutorsThen write to the brother1. as 1 above2. As 3 above (amended appropriately)3. Point out that his actions during the period were a clear breach of his duties as the person holding power of attorney4. Say that unless he agrees to credit the estate with the rental figure you will consider reporting the matter to the Official Solicitor5 as 76 as 87 as 10I am happy to review the letters if you wishPlease ask if you need further detailsClare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 34263
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 1 year ago.
Thank you so much Clare-this answer is very helpful indeed, and I will work on the letters tomorrow, asap. I really appreciate the effort you have put into this given how messy it is. I might well take you up on your or to look over the letters-that's very kind-thank you again. If we decided to get a solicitor, given how small the area is where Mum lived and b-i-law still does, and the fact that this solicitor has been in the business since graduating, ( and well known locally, regardless of his proficiency)would it be so bad to get a solicitor who was not local, and let them communicate via phone/skype or registered mail? What would be the primary benefits for have a local one? I know a very trustworthy solicitor in Bristol who executed my Mum's estate, and this is his specialty. How can I contact you to ask you to look over the letters please-ask them as a question?Again all this is very much appreciated! Tina
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Bristol would be fine!If you just add to this thread when you are ready that is fine
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
HI Clare,
Just working the letters!.Is there any article of the law we can quote re: keeping the rent. The legal assistant told us that because b-i-law had paid taxes on it then it wasn't a gift and wasn't part of the estate!
Also we have just had an e-mail from b-in-law admitting he was delaying things as much as possible because he wanted to keep all the ivory( My husband e-d him and said it seemed as if this is what he was doing and he replied 'yup'!!!)
If the import permits expire , is it reasonable for the solicitor himself to pay for new ones?
R: the jewelry, as it's all been 'lost/stolen' how will it be possible for it to be revalued?
Thanks Clare. Tina
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
All you can do is give the arguments as set out - the fact that he paid taxes is not proof of anything at all other than that he didn't want to upset the taxman.With regard to the Ivory the email can be used against him.In both letters point out that there is evidence that the bil is not acting in the interests of the beneficiaries and evidence the email. Say that you expect the cost of the import licences to be refundedAsk for copies of the last Insurance valuations of the jewellry
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK Thanks Claire :-) Tina