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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10955
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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My father passed away in January 2015. His will is being

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Good day
My father passed away in January 2015. His will is being executed by a firm of attorneys in the UK. We are four beneficiaries, two natural children and two step-children (of my father's third wife when they were already adult). My stepbrother keeps on asking questions about gift monies paid to my brother and I about 11 years prior to his death and questions all manner of communication re assets etc. He evidently has had access to my father's accounts dating decades back which have never been made available to my brother or myself.
Please can you help me understand the rights of beneficiaries as I understood we are to leave the attorneys to do their job, as requested in my father's will. Does a beneficiary have a right to question all monies and funds of the past and at time of death in a manner that suggests he is not getting a 'fair' deal. The attorneys respond to all his queries and put on hold further administration of the estate based on his information and not what they have accessed. I feel they are not acting impartially or professionally.
I feel frustrated by his greed and determination to exercise some misunderstood right he thinks he has........
Furthermore, my father had a life policy in South Africa. It has been decided without any discussion that my brother can be paid this in full in SA rands and the other three of us in GBP. I live in South Africa (as does my brother) and yet this decision appears to have been made between my brother and the attorneys to the exclusion of me. This does not seem in keeping with impartial administration?
Please can you assist. I just need clarity on the rights of beneficiaries and whether I have misunderstood what impartiality means.
Thank you.

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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