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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 8564
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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This is a question regarding Probate...My Dad passed

Customer Question

Hi,This is a question regarding Probate...My Dad passed away last year (22/9/15) and left no will.The only living relatives of Dad are just my Brother and myself (and typically in these cases we are estranged)! But at least there's no dispute over inheritance.My Brother had already instructed a Solicitor to undergo the Probate process and after briefly talking to my own Solicitor about appointing him to act on my behalf, he advised it would be much simpler (and cheaper) to work with just one Solicitor and that my Brother wouldn't be able to make any decisions about my Dad's estate without my approval and that I was entitled to receive an inventory of what his estate was.I have since found on the online Probate search database that my Dad's Date of Probate was registered 11/12/15 as "Grant Only".Even though I have given all my contact details to my Brother's Solicitor, I had to email them 15/3/16 asking for an update. I received a response the following day stating that my Dad’s house was in the process of being sold! I thought my Brother would need my permission to do so – bearing in mind I am currently overseas and I still have important possessions of mine in that house?When I contested this with the Solicitor, I was informed that my Brother was the appointed Executor and that I am just a residuary Beneficiary and that he was entitled to solely decide on what to do with Dad’s estate coupled with his choice as to how frequently I should be contacted by this Solicitor?Can you please help and advise me as I am not being told for how much my Brother is selling my Dad’s house, (I can’t find it listed on any property website anywhere!); plus what has happened to my belongings that are/were in that house?Many thanks in advance,
Julie
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.
I apologise, I just misread your question and therefore, I’m going to amend my answer for you. Please leave it with me.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.
If someone dies without leaving a will any close relative can apply for the Grant to allow them to deal with the estate. All the close relatives do not have to make the application. What you were told about having just one solicitor dealing with this is correct. It would save delays and virtually doubling of the costs involved. However, it does remove one of you (you in this case) from the decision-making process. Your brother solicitor is not under any duty to consult with beneficiaries during the process, merely to account for the estate at the end and distribute the proceeds in accordance with the will. The same applies with regard to you not being told how much your brother is selling your late father’s house for, he is under no duty to tell you. In fact, it goes even further, you are not actually entitled to have a copy of the will. The majority of house sales now have the last sale price and the date noted in the title deeds and once that sale has completed, you can get the title deeds from the land registry for £3. It is possible to opt out of giving that information but it rarely happens. You can get a copy of the will from the Probate Registry upon the payment of a fee of £10 once it has been admitted to probate. I don’t know whether your brother had contact details for you but if he didn’t, all he needs to do is make best endeavours to contact you to ask you what you want him to do with the items and if you don’t contact him, dispose of them. He should however account to you for any proceeds although, if the proceeds were not enough to defray the disposal costs, you would be liable for any additional costs he incurred. If however you had told your brother about these belongings then he would be responsible for the cost of replacing them provided he had given you the opportunity to remove them and you had done so within a reasonable time. As you previously instructed solicitors and his solicitor presumably had your contact details, it would only be for the solicitor to contact you if the solicitor was aware of these items being in the property. If your brother knew they were in the property and simply got rid of them knowing that they were yours and without giving you the opportunity to collect them within a reasonable period of time, he is personally liable to you in respect of the value of the items. Can I clarify anything for you?Please don’t forget to rate the service positive. It’s an important part of the process so that I get my time recognised.Best wishesFES
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thanks for your reply!In that case, is there a way l could contest my Brother's Grant application? I thought l read somewhere that you can do that?Also, l seemed to have been charged twice on my credit card for this answer, (£33.89 then £32), any chance l can get a refund on one of those charges?Many thanks,
Julie
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.
I will refer the double payment to admin but it would also be worthwhile you emailing customer services yourself.You can contest the application by applying placing a caveat at the Probate Registry which would hold it up. However you can’t contest it once it’s been granted.You can contest the provisions in the will within a limited timescale but as all the assets of your late father are being split 50-50 between you and your brother under the rules of intestacy, all you would be contesting it seems is the value of the assets and therefore, it’s a claim against the executor personally and as to whether the executor was acting in the best interest of the beneficiaries if you believe that things have been sold under value.There is no legal aid for this and therefore you would be faced with paying your own legal costs.

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