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1. Dear Alexis, what is going on here is most unusual and smacks of a level of incompetence and lack of confidentiality on the part of the law firm who have been appointed executors to the estate. Firstly, any gift given more than seven years ago cannot be taken into account when determining the rights of beneficiaries. This is because any gift which is more than seven years old does not form part of the estate and is not subject to Inheritance Tax. So, these queries being raised by your stepbrother are both irrelevant and a breach of confidentiality by the law firm who are executors in putting this information into his possession.
2. For the avoidance of doubt, a beneficiary has no lawful right to query any monies or funds given in the past. A beneficiary's role is zero in the administration of an estate. Secondly, your brother has no lawful right to this information and you should get a solicitor to formally write to the law firm who are executors and point out to them that it is a breach of your right to confidentiality for this information to be released to your stepbrother.
3. Additionally, in a letter written to the executors you should point out that any executor has the obligation to administer the estate solely in accordance with the terms of the will and not in accordance with instructions from any one beneficiary. An executor is a trustee of the estate and owes and obligation to all the beneficiaries, including you, to administer the estate solely according to the instructions of the deceased and not in accordance with the meddlesome instructions of one beneficiary.
4. It is a breach of professional duty and the obligation of impartiality and fairness in administering the estate for the executors to be according preferential treatment to your stepbrother. The law firm should ignore your stepbrother and get on with administering the estate in accordance with the will.
5. Finally, it is a breach of the executors obligation as trustee to accord to one beneficiary the ability to be paid in South african rands without according the same privilege to each of the other beneficiaries. Be aware that this is grounds for the removal of the law firm as executors. So you can include a line in the letter to them, informing them that you will move for their removal as executors if they continue with this approach.
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