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JGM
JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 11745
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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BackgroundMy Gran died in 2012 and as the Executor I agreed

Resolved Question:

Background

My Gran died in 2012 and as the Executor I agreed that the solicitor who made the will could act on my behalf and obtain Grant of Confirmation and disburse the funds. At the time I recall asking them for a view on fees in which I was advised it would be no more than £1k as I had done a lot of the work i.e. I had obtained the bank details for all her assets (no property). Seemed relatively straightforward.

Issues

- I am concerned at the length of time it has taken to complete this process and the lack of communication / transparency. The solicitor is always busy or on holiday. Some of the funds were disbursed in June when the solicitor had all the monies in their account but nothing has happened since.

- The solicitor has advised that he has now requested an audit of his fees (not sure what they are yet) and does not remember initial discussion we had.

-The solicitor has indicated all that is left to be paid is costs but there is c13k still to be disbursed over and above c£1k legal costs (I have kept my own record of assets and disbursements).

Question

What options are available to me to get transparency on fees / disbursements/timescales. Are the ones I suggest below open to me;

- appoint another solicitor to converse with the existing solicitor to gain clarity and hopefully push things forward.

- Can I tell the existing solicitor that their services are no longer required. What would happen? i.e. would they send any monies held to me to disburse the remainder and then pay the legal fees once they are finalised.

Help????
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Scots Law
Expert:  JGM replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question.

The solicitor should have issued a terms of business letter to you as the executor telling you the basis of the fees to be charged in the estate. Normally an estate is charged on a time basis as it can be very difficult to estimate the fees in advance.

For example fees could be charged at an hourly rate so at the end of the file the expended is added up and applied to the hourly rate. However of the solicitor indicated a cap on fees then you would be entitled to rely on this. The difficulty is actually proving what you were told at the time. That is why it is important to have the fees issue agreed at the beginning of a file

However, you can insist that the solicitor has his fees prepared by an independent law accountant so that his fees at audited "out of house".

Of concern is your description of the delay in finalising the estate. You should write to the solicitor indicating that he has seven days to respond to you and give you a full report of progress and th financial position. If he fails to do so you shoud have another solicitor mandate the files over so that the estate can be finalised. Your first solicitor will insist on taking his fees before handing over the files but if you are not satisfied as to the work done, having taken advice elsewhere,you can make a complaint to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission which can order repayment of fees in cases they find to have been handled inadequately.

You can ask for the funds to be sent to you as executor for disbursement but I would tend to have another solicitor deal with this to ensure that there is nothing outstanding that would prevent immediate disbursement. For example, sometimes it can take ages to hear from the state in relation to claims for repayment of pension or benefits and the executor can't pay out fully until such things have been dealt with.

In the first instance, however, you should try to get a detailed explanation from the solicitor concerned.

Happy to discuss further.

I hope this helps. Please leave a positive response so that I am credited for my time.
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