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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10955
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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Probate issues with a solicitor

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My uncle started a probate service with a soliciting company for my father's estate, who now will only deal with us. He hadn't left a will. The only information we received from them was a letter saying that we had granted them permission to carry out the service and wanted us to sign a letter saying that we accepted these terms. I had signed and sent it back but called them within 5 days to stop all services. My sister had not returned the letter, and we were both executives of the estate (she lives in Spain).

They are now saying that we owe them a large sum of money for all the work that they had done, but none of the work they have done we had agreed to initially, and the majority was prior to their communications with us. They will also not release the documents of my father's estate until this payment is made.

We've looked at the breakdown of the costs and I have decided that I am willing to pay approximately half but feel the work done without our consent shouldn't be paid for. Is this fair?

1. Paying more than half the large bill raised is more than fair. Given that only five days elapsed between the time you signed the engagement letter and the date when you cancelled the services, this probate service firm can have done very little. I imagine the bill is grossly inflated. However, you should ensure that this probate service firm will release the documents before you pay them any money. Be aware that the legal position is if there is repudiatory breach, as you did, then only a quantum meruit or fair amount is owed to this probate service firm. Additionally, if was necessary for both executors - yourself and your sister - to sign the engagement letter for a concluded agreement to be reached in relation to the estate. So your legal position is very strong with the probate service firm.
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