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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 9032
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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My brother and I are joint executors and equal beneficiaries

Customer Question

My brother and I are joint executors and equal beneficiaries of our fathers will. Dad died on 24/10/15. Dad was a farmer so we had animals to care for until they were sold and a dispersal sale on 05/03/16. My husband and did what we could but my brother took most of it because he was a self employed gardener. But he aubused the situation My brother has invoiced dads estate for work he has not done amounting to approx £10.000. He has done about half of that value. He has also invoiced for work done when dad had a stroke in February 2015. I know that he was paid for that work in cash. Can he invoice for helping dad months before he died. Some of the invoices had to be paid because it was animal welfare. Dads solicitor, who is administering the will keeps telling me it will be sorted before the day of reconciliation, but he keeps putting these extra invoices in. We have a meeting coming up to decide what we want to do with the land and to discuss the expenses claimed. I feel I am being disregarded. Should I contact my brother before the meeting asking him to review his bills and how do I word it so as not to incriminate myself. The last time we spoke was on 03/02/16 when I confronted him. He made many denials and threats such as he will sit on the land for hundreds of years! Durin all this our mother had been ill with cancer and sadly died on 12/05/16. We are equal beneficiaries but myself and her solicitor are the executors. She did this because of my brothers behaviour over dad's will. Mum and dad were divorced. I am overwhelmed by it all. Please could advise me
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I forgot to mention that the night dad passed away my husband and I arrived at his house first. The paramedics were there, having been called by a concerned neighbour. When my brother arrived much later he immediately questioned me about cash in the house. It was never mentioned again until I asked if he found it. He told there was not much, which I know to be untrue, but he told dad's solicitor there was not any cash in the house. I can't believe the solicitor is satisfied with that answer, dad was a farmer and always had cash in the house! The day after dad died my husband helped him at the farm. My brother removed a large quantity of tools and valuable equipment, such as chainsaws etc. He said it was for "security purposes". He phoned me few days later and told me that he did not need to make a list or have the items valued. He obliviously intended to keep them for himself. The same thing happened at Dad's house, it was like a smash and grab. He also sold sheep to a local sheep dealer without consulting me, an equal executor. When we met a local auctioneer to discuss selling the sheep he was difficult about it. He did not want a dispersal sale, he wanted to sell tractors etc on eBay! The sale went ahead because I insisted it did because we needed to sell everything not just the big machinery. He was so annoyed he helped very little and did not attend the sale. My husband took a lot of time off work unpaid and now my brother is saying my husband cannot be paid. My husbands bill is a little over £1,ooo.oo. Sorry it is so long winded but there this and so much more I am concerned about.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

Did the work done by your brother amount to commercial work of done by your brother, but which was absolutely essential to keep the whole thing ticking over? If your brother had not done it, then would it still have to have been done and if so, would that cost be more or less your brother is now wanting?

The reason I ask is because under the Supply of Goods and Services Act or the later Consumer Rights Act 2015, if there is no price agreed for a job to be carried out (forgetting that this is a will/probate/inheritance situation) then the price has to be reasonable. Hence, your brother would only be able to charge the market rate and it would come down to however much that was.

He cannot charge for the odd little bit of helping out or house clearance here and there, only if the work was essential and done on a commercial basis.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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Best wishes.

FES.

F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 9032
Experience: I have been practising for 30 years.
F E Smith and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
It was ok but not answered if I should ask my brother to review his bill because he claimed for a lot more hours than I know he actually did. If I write to request this do write without prejudice at the top of the letter, will this be sufficient ? I want to write to him to tell him I know he has over charged. What do you think.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Still need to know if I should write to my brother asking him to review his invoices to dad's estate. I know he did not do all the hours he is claiming at £100 a day. If I write to him do I begin the letter, " Without prejudice" ?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

By all means ask your brother to review his bill and if necessary, contest it in court. Hundred pounds per day is not an unreasonable amount but it depends whether he actually did the number of days that he is claiming for and whether he did full days.

The full heading of any letter is ” Without prejudice save as to costs”. However you only need to do that on the letter if it contains anything which could be construed as an offer or admission. Otherwise, it is just open correspondence there is no need for it.

What you might want to do is present him with some hard evidence of the number of days and hours he works and tell him what you are happy to agree with rather than just a blanket non-agreement. It may be that the cost of arguing over the amount you are arguing over, which for solicitors would be £200 per hour or thereabouts, is going to actually cost more than the amount of money being argued over.

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