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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 18352
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I’m dealing with my mothers estate and about to submit

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I’m dealing with my mothers estate and about to submit probate forms – Mum left no Will.A cousin (Liz) to my mother and Uncle died in April 2020. There are no other relatives to Liz.
Would my Mum, who died last month, be entitled to a share of the cousins estate to add to her estate? The cousin may have left a will in favour of Mum but I am not able to access the house due to Covid restrictions and the hospital are holding the keys and won’t release them to me.
JA: Since estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me where this is?
Customer: My Mum lived in England, her dec'd cousin in Wales. My Uncle is in the States
JA: What documents or supporting evidence do you have?
Customer: Family tree showing family connections and my Mum's cousins death certificate
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: How can I legally access the cousins house as a family member I guess - then I could look for the will

Welcome to Just Answer.

I will be happy to assist with your question today. I need some time to consider this and compose a response. There is NO need to wait online because you will get an email when I respond. Sometimes it will be minutes, sometimes longer.

I apologise for any unavoidable delay, but rest assured I have not forgotten your question.

was there any children from this cousin?

do you know that you are the only relative living connected to these people?

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
The cousin never married or had any partners - she had no children. We understand from our research we are the only living relatives. The cousins sister died in 2002 with no children

If the cousin who died left a will, then obviously this date passes in accordance with the terms of the will.

If there is no will, then it passes in accordance with the rules of intestacy which, with no spouse, no children and no siblings, goes to cousins in equal shares.

How can you legally access the cousin’s house? Were quite simply, you can’t unless you are the closest living relative.

Finding out who actually has the key may be a problem and there is no magic way of doing that.

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Thank you for this.
So without a will, even though my Mum died 4 weeks ago, she would still be eligible for a share of the cousins estate?
I am the closest relative in this country - the real closest relative is my Uncle (Lizs cousin) who is 90 years old in the States and has onset dementia. The social worker at the hospital has the house keys but won't release them without probate authorisation.

If your cousin died and your mother inherited from that state, and your mother then died, before the cousins estate is distributed, then your mother still inherits. If your mother died before your cousin but your mother obviously left children, then children would inherit the mother’s share which is how the rules of intestacy work.

Getting the uncle to deal with matters is not a consideration.

The social worker has no more right to hang onto the keys than I do.

You need to write to the head of social services saying that if there is a problem with the house such as burglary or leakage of frost damage or fire or anything else, you will hold them responsible because you need to be able to go and inspect the property.

Probate could take six months and whoever you are dealing with clearly doesn’t know what day of the week it is!

I am glad to help.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand.

I would be more than happy to clarify anything else for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

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

Please be aware that my answer is based strictly upon the information you have given me.

If you still need any points clarifying, I will be happy to reply because the thread does not close. In fact, it remains open indefinitely.

I am always happy to answer any further questions you have on any new thread in which case, please start your question with, “ For FES only”.

That only applies to new threads, not this one. You have me exclusively on this one.

Thank you.

Best wishes.


Incidentally: You may find that a strongly worded letter from a solicitor threatening a court application and an application for costs, may focus the mind without actually the need to get to court.

Check your house/business/other insurances to see if you have legal expenses cover that would pay for the legal cost of taking this to court.

Some policies do have such cover so it's always worth checking.

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Thank you so much for your response. We have a lot to think about now and we consider our options. We will come back to you for further advice and instruction if needed

No problem at all. I am glad to help. Please come back to me at any time if anything needs clarification. Kind regards.

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