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Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 35071
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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Another issue I have not been able to find an answer to is

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Another issue I have not been able to find an answer to is the following. After their mother died 10 days ago, one of the three siblings, who are beneficiaries but have not been pointed executors (that lot fell to their 89 year old aunt and in the case of her demise to her 93 year old spouse), has been into their late mother's flat and removed all personal documents relating to finances etc. I understand that she was not allowed to do so, unless it was for safe storage. The other two siblings don't believe that the removal was for that purpose as neither of them had been informed of the action. There's also the issue that this particular sibling is not an executor. Probate has not been applied for by the executor as the death certificate has not been issued yet to said executor, but is still in the possession (since yesterday) of the eldest child. What, if anything, can the other two siblings do to ensure that documents are not "lost"? Also, after speaking to the two witnesses of the codicil in which their late mother named new executors (neither they nor the children know who this/these new executors are) the other two siblings are particularly worried that this codicil was amongst these documents and may disappear. The child that took the documents is involved with a religious sect and fears exist that the elderly aunt will be influenced in helping funds to go to said sibling which will then go straight into the coffers of the sect. Complicated? O yes. I am asking these questions on behalf of the oldest child, my partner.
So, what if anything, can the two other siblings do?
Thanks again for your help.
HiThank you for your questionMy name is ***** ***** I shall do my best to help youhave you asked for a list of the papers the sibling has taken?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Communications have broken down. Other than cheque stubs every single paper has been removed.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks very much for helping us.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Should we get an official statement of the witnesses to the codicil? Just so there is proof that it exists/existed? Will this help in any way to get executorship removed from the current executor so the oldest sibling can apply for Letters of Administration?
What has the elderly Aunt said - is she willing to renounce being an Executor?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No. In fact her husband, who will be executor should she die, is doing most of the talking. They have made it very clear that they don't want to renounce her executorship. Why we don't know. It would have been the logical thing to do particularly as they mentioned themselves how the testatrix had told them that she was going to change her will to that effect (but she never did, although she did through the codicil which is now either missing, destroyed, or still in the possession of the sibling with all the other paperwork). The aunt has now decided to let a solicitor's office deal with it all. Although it is our understanding that without the death certificate (she does have the original will in her possession through said solicitor) she cannot officially instruct them to apply for probate and take on the execution of the estate, yet.
Aunt and uncle said "you will only squabble" and left it at that. We think it is a matter of unwillingness to relinquish power, control, and influence. (Seems to run in the family.) There is no good reason for it. In fact, they know that they are going against the testatrix's wishes. The will was drawn up in 1998 and has not been changed since. Ofcourse everyone is badly wishing that Mother had faced up to mortality and put her affairs in order according to her current wishes. E.g. she had a new stationery shop will kit in the house and also documentation for a funeral plan, but she never finished any of it.
Our main worry is that the codicil has disappeared and not knowing what to do to about that: eventhough we know of its existence.
Thank you.
Have you spoken to her husband about the Codicil?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No, we have not. Unless the sibling has found the codicil in the paperwork that she took and told the aunt and uncle about it, none of them yet know about its existence. What we are worried about is that either the sibling on her own or in cahoots with the aunt and uncle will 'disappear' the codicil. In which case only a statement of the two witnesses will be proof that it ever existed in the first place. All the witnesses know is that Mother wanted to change the executor(s) of her will. Whom she named we and the witnesses don't know. The witnesses are the only ones ever to see the codicil as they signed it, but they didn't read it. We don't know what to do, hence the request for your advice.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The two siblings rather execute the will themselves - including the estranged sibling (who took the papers) - rather than have a solicitor's office deal with it. 1. because of the costs involved, 2. because they don't like the idea of strangers going through it all, 3. and most importantly, because they know it is against their mother's wishes (as previously mentioned, the aunt and uncle know this, too, and have admitted that they are aware of it; in spite of all that, they refuse to renounce the executorship).
So the hope lies with the codicil.
Who would have drawn up the codicil?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Mother will have written the codicil herself and then have asked her neighbours to witness the signing. And that is what they did.
How does the Will distribute the Estate?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
£1,000 each to the aunt and uncle. The rest to be equally divided between the three siblings. Will you be able to answer the questions I posed?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The more days pass now without an answer, the less we can do about it. At least that is what we fear. Do you know when you will be able to answer the questions?
It is not unusual for an Executor to instruct a Solicitor to deal with obtaining probate and your Aunt is not doing anything that could be criticised by doing so.Indeed given her age it would be seen as a very reasonable step.The fact that you are aware of a Codicil and that you believe the sibling may have removed it should be reported to the Aunt immediately so that she can make enquiries and notify the solicitor she has instructed of the position.However the fact that there is no record of who your mother wished to act as Executors is a major problem.At best there is an argument that there is a partial intestacy since it is believed that the the Executors were replaced. However the likely resolution would be for ALL three siblings to be appointed as personal Representatives in place of the Aunt - alternatively it is not impossible that the Probate Court would instead appoint a Solicitor to deal with it.Whatever the outcome the starting point is for the two siblings to tell the current Executor about the existence of the Codicil and to discuss the possible ways forwardThere is little point in getting statements at this stage - unless of course the Witnesses are elderly themselves - but in any event it is best left to the Solicitors appointed by the Executor as being Independent.Obviously the fact that the one sibling has removed paperwork from the house should also be reported to the Executor so that she can instruct the solicitor to write to the sibling and demand the return of the paperworkPlease ask if you need further detailsClare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you very much for your replies. I will check with my partner and his sibling if they have anything to add to these questions.
Just one more thing: the sibling who took the papers and wasn't supposed to do that, are there any consequences for her for doing this? And also what happens if she has destroyed the Codicil?
Thank you again for your help. Hope you can answer these last questions as well.
Sadly no real consequences - if she has destroyed the Codicil it does not change the situation outlined above
Clare and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The siblings have no further questions at this stage. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer so thoroughly. At least they now have some guidance as to what they can do.
Kind regards ***** ***** you very, very much.
You are most welcome -I hope all goes as well as it can