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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 14545
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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My mother has recently passed away and had money owed to her

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My mother has recently passed away and had money owed to her by a solicitor (her partners deceased estate). I had asked the solicitor to keep hold of it as we suspected somebody had access to her bank account but couldnt close it as bills were being paid from it (she was mentally incapacitated but nobody had power of attorney). It is a relatively small amount (£33k) but will help paying bills. The bank have said that we can just withdraw it without anybody having to apply for probate - but the solicitor has said that they will not release the funds into her bank account stating :
JA: Since estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me where this is?
Customer: Yes, I did manage to speak with Richard and he has confirmed we are unable to release the funds to one person, as your mother died without leaving a will. It would be for us to ensure the funds reach the correct beneficiaries in accordance with the intestacy rules. We would need to see ID from all the children and we could then release an equal amount to each child. Perhaps you would provide me with the names and addresses?
JA: What documents or supporting evidence do you have?
Customer: London
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: no
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
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Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Sorry, which service offer?

Good afternoon. I will assist with your question - be aware this is an email not chat service therefore i maybe delayed in replying.

who is the person who you say who has access to the money?

what exactly is your question as its not clear

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Thank you. My brother has had access to my mums account while she was alive and was paying bills but also taking all he could as well, so I had asked the solicitor to 'hold' the money owed to her. I am confused as to why they can just release it now and why they are effectively appointing themselves the authority (nobody has instructed this) on how it is released.

If the only assets in cash, and there is no investment in any of the banks or building societies over about 20,000/GBP30,000. Then the bank or building society will normally deal with this under the smaller estate rules.


Whoever is then going to deal with it would simply sign a statutory declaration in front of a solicitor, on oath, that they are entitled to deal with the estate and they will deal with it in accordance with the will or, if there is no will, under the rules of intestacy.


Each of the bank/building societies has their own form which they complete or you complete and then pop along to any other solicitor to have it sworn. The solicitor charges a fixed five quid for doing so.


Insurance companies on the other hand tend to be a rule under themselves but if you tell them that there is no property and therefore you are not applying for probate, they should release any monies on production of the death certificate. They may want a similar declaration.

Similarly, the solicitor can deal with this in the same way but they have decided to become self appointed administrators and divided three ways.


If they want idea of the individuals and they will give one third each, and I really can’t see that you have an argument with them and I would do what they are asking for, get the money, and then make a complaint to the firms complaints Partner and ultimately to the Legal Ombudsman.


Whilst they may not be entitled to do this, they are doing and the easiest way of resolving this is as I have mentioned because if you wanted to argue the point, it could easily be 12 months before it gets to court.


Can I clarify anything else for you?


I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.


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Best wishes.




Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Thank you that is very helpful. I guess I want to know if the solicitor can just appoint themselves despite not having been given instruction?

In my opinion, no they can’t but they are not actually appointing themselves as such what they are doing is distributing the money in accordance with the rules of intestacy.


They are playing safe.


It depends why this would cause a problem bearing in mind that with no parent and a deceased persons assets are divided equally between the beneficiaries so if the solicitors didn’t do this, whoever is the (self appointed!) Administrator of the estate would have to do it anyway so the solicitors are actually saving someone a job.


Although it’s annoying, I can’t see that the solicitors would be criticised, if this went to court, for doing what they have done.

You can make a complaint and you can further that complaint to the Ombudsman for the reasons I mentioned, I cannot see going anywhere.


I’m not certain whether there is another problem which this has created because that may change things.

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