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    Default Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Hi there,

    I wonder if anybody could help, my grandmother passed away 4 months ago and my Uncle administered her estate.

    My Grandmother and I had a few conversations over the years about her wishes and she asked me to get her a Will. I did this for her and she told me that my Uncle would then deal with it.

    Since she passed, he has divided the Estate but not offered any information on how this was calculated. Also, when clearing her belongings my Uncle produced a folder with the Will I had bought for her and then put it in a bin bag...which insinuated that it had not been completed. We have also recently discovered that 2 of her sons did not receive an inheritance.

    It has left us in a very difficult situation as we don't know if this was her wish or his...? I was very close to my Grandmother and she told me that she had X amount of money which is a lot more than the figure verbally disclosed to another member of the family.

    The whole situation has been dealt with in a very underhanded manner and the lack of transparency is making us suspect potential foul play.

    There are plans to arrange a meeting with him to try and settle these concerns amicably, but I would like to know where my family stand legally if he refuses to cooperate. There is a very high chance that he did not arrange a Will for her - but can we request an inventory of accounts? Is there a legal route for this if he refuses to supply any information?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    I think firstly you need to find out if there was a Will ( http://legalbeagles.info/library/wil...cating-a-will/ ) as if there wasn't intestacy rules kick in ( http://legalbeagles.info/library/pro...testacy-rules/ )

    Tagging @Peridot to look in for you xx

    ( Once you've registered you'll be able to reply to this post - then I'll get it moved down to the WIlls & Probate section of the forum so you get more help )
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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Thank you Amethyst

    I am 99% certain that she has died intestate, but will know for certain shortly.

    Does this mean that he would have had to apply to the court for a grant of letters of administration - can we ask to see this Grant?

    Also he has told other family members that she verbally expressed her wishes - does this still mean she has died intestate and intestacy rules need to be followed?

    She told me that the value of her estate was approx. £45k (he has causally mentioned £26k )- not sure if the value will have an effect on how things should have been administered - any guidance would be appreciated xx many, many thanks

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    If she had no will then I'm afraid your Uncle has no say in it and if she told him she wanted it all to go to Donald Trump it would be of no consequence and instestacy rules would apply.

    The person making the will (the testator or testatrix) must have been over 18 when they made the Will. The only exception to this is if the person is a soldier on actual military service, a mariner or a seaman at sea.

    There are then five formalities that need to be followed when the Will is created:-

    The Will must be in writing – handwritten or typed, preferably in the same ink with no amendments

    The Will must be signed – usually at the end of the Will either a signature or a mark is acceptable provided this is explained. All pages of the Will should still be securely fastened together.

    • An intention to create a Will – use of an attestation clause will demonstrate this. If there is no attestation clause then an affidavit may be required confirming the belief of the testator’s intention to create a Will.

    • The testator must have signed or placed their mark on the Will in front of two adult witnesses – generally at the end of the Will.

    The two witnesses must sign or acknowledge the testator’s signature or mark. NB If any beneficiaries or their spouses or civil partners witness a Will then the beneficiary will not be entitled to any legacy due to them under the Will.
    2 of her sons did not receive an inheritance
    Under intestacy rules it seems extremely likely they would have been entitled to a share of the estate.

    How many children did she have, and do they all survive her?
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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    This is very helpful. Thank you Amethyst. Hopefully she hasn't left her worldly goods to Donald Trump but we will soon find out. Thanks again.

    As there is a discrepancy in the actual value of her estate - - if he doesn't co-operate amicably - is there a legal route to request an inventory of her accounts? Does he have a legal obligation to provide these?

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    You can request copies of the letters of representation and I think you can ask for copies of the estate accounts ( well, someone who would be a beneficiary - so your Dad? ) @Peridot knows far more than I so when she is back in things should be made a bit clearer xxxx
    “We may not win by protesting, but if we don’t protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win.” Hetty Bower

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Under intestacy rules it seems extremely likely they would have been entitled to a share of the estate.

    How many children did she have, and do they all survive her?
    Sorry - Just noticed your question. She had 7 children and they all survived her.

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Quote Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
    You can request copies of the letters of representation and I think you can ask for copies of the estate accounts ( well, someone who would be a beneficiary - so your Dad? ) @Peridot knows far more than I so when she is back in things should be made a bit clearer xxxx
    Thank you Amethyst, this is very helpful. My mum was a beneficiary and it would be her and 2 other brothers making the request. xxxx

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Hi DeeBee779,

    So if I understand it correctly there may not be a Will, but hopefully you'll find this out following the meeting with the other members of the family.

    As Amethyst said, if there is no Will then no-one is able to make any decision about what Grandmother would have wanted. The intestacy rules are very strict and have to be followed. In a nutshell if your grandmother had children they inherit the estate in equal shares. If any of her children have pre-deceased her leaving children of their own then those children (your grandmother's grandchildren) would inherit their parent's share equally between them.

    A Grant of Letters of Administration (where there is no Will) or Grant of Probate (where there is a Will) would not be necessary if the estate value was below £15k but as the estate value is between £26k and £45k then a Grant should be obtained. This then gives the person appointed administrator the authority to deal with the estate. They shouldn't be doing anything before they obtain the Grant. In the case of executors appointed under a Will it is the Will that gives them the authority so no need to wait for the Grant.

    Hopefully you'll get some answers at the meeting but pop back if you need any more pointers.
    I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

    If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Thank you very much Peridot - this is very helpful and explains everything.

    Much appreciated.

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Hi again,
    I should probably say if there is a Will it may not be necessary to get a Grant of Probate depending on the assets your grandmother had and whether banks etc insist upon it. However if there is no Will it will be necessary.
    I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

    If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    I think a way he may have gotten around this was by opening a joint account - I only found out last night that her main account was in joint names with my Uncle. He arranged this when my granddad died apparently. Would a grant of probate / letter of administration therefore be necessary, do you think?

  13. #13
    Peridot's Avatar

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Hi again,
    It depends what assets she has after the half share of the joint account is included in the estate values. If they are below £15k then you won't need a Grant.
    The joint account passes by survivorship straight to the other co-owner (your uncle) and isn't included in any distribution of her assets to family unfortunately.
    I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

    If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Quote Originally Posted by Peridot View Post
    Hi again,
    It depends what assets she has after the half share of the joint account is included in the estate values. If they are below £15k then you won't need a Grant.
    The joint account passes by survivorship straight to the other co-owner (your uncle) and isn't included in any distribution of her assets to family unfortunately.
    Thanks Peridot,

    He told my nan that it was 'just easier' to have a joint account so he could pay in her pension and get her money whenever she needed (she didn't like banks and never used a cash machine). As far as I know he didn't actually use the account for his own personal use. However, all credits would have been cash (as her pension was paid into a post office account and withdrew immediately). Does this mean that he is legally the owner of all her money?

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    Peridot's Avatar

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Hi DeeBee779,
    Technically yes. Sorry but legally as co-owner of the joint asset (the bank account) it automatically passes to him.
    Not knowing the family situation I couldn't say whether he would be persuaded to be reasonable about this or not I'm afraid. Another thing for the discussion.
    I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

    If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Thanks Peridot.

    He is not making a meeting easy at the moment and is refusing to acknowledge phonecalls.

    Obviously, we don't wont to jump to conclusions but all the signs are looking premeditated to me. I don't understand how somebody in his position (self imposed Next of Kin) could not make arrangements to ensure things were carried out correctly. If we suspect foul play and he refuses to cooperate, what route (if any) would you suggest we take? I really appreciate your help.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Hi,
    It depends what you mean by foul play. Legally he owns the balance of the joint account.

    However if he has not distributed the estate (excluding the joint account amount I am afraid) according to the strict intestacy rules then you do (or the sons do) have a claim against the estate and they could issue Court proceedings. But even if the Court were to find in your favour the cost of taking such an action may well outweigh the benefit of what you would receive from the estate, bearing in mind the size. There is no guarantee that a costs order would be made against your Uncle personally and may infact be taken from the estate, leaving even less to go around.

    It may be sensible to write to the Uncle setting out your concerns that the strict Intestacy Rules have not been followed and that in the circumstances a claim could be made against him to obtain the information relating to the estate values and to ensure the rules are followed correctly. As I say, not knowing the relationships it may be worth saying you think this may be an oversight on his part (if you're feeling generous!) and that you'd all like to get together to discuss this. Also that you are willing to mediate to resolve issues and would welcome his agreement.

    Set a timescale for a response, maybe 14-21 days and say after that date you will be taking legal action. You don't have to take that step of course but it may nudge him into responding.

    I would suggest you get yourself a free half hour or reduced fee appointment with a wills and probate specialist who deals with contentious probate. Sometimes these specialists are in the litigation departments of firms or they may be in the private client (wills and probate) department so you may have to call about a bit.

    I suspect you would be advised the same as the estate is not considerable and the cost of taking legal action may well outweigh the potential benefits I'm afraid, but always worth getting a further opinion.

    If you do go and see someone do write yourself out a timeline of events and as much factual information that you can recall so you don't waste any time with the lawyer. Hopefully it will put your mind at rest that you tried everything, but unless you have the funds to throw considerable amounts of money at this I suspect there is no easy solution.

    Do pop back here if you have any other queries or just to let us know how you get on.
    I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

    If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Thanks again for this information Peridot, it really is very helpful.

    Over the weekend, our saga has continued, and if you don't mind, I would like to hear your opinion. I will try to keep it brief....

    We managed to speak to my uncle and he told us that she did not want to leave a will (despite her telling me otherwise and asking me to buy one). He then said that she wrote her wishes on a piece of paper and because they were 'nasty' he burned them. I explained that the rules of intestacy therefore apply. I then asked about the discrepancy in the value of her estate and he put the phone down.

    I have spent all morning writing a letter and putting our concerns in writing and he has now sent his son to my mothers place of work - with a copy of the note that he said he burned. It quite clearly states that she wanted all off her personal belonging to go to charity - £5,000 to him and the remainder of her money to be shared amongst her grandchildren. Its is signed but not dated or witnessed. He has disregarded this and split her estate as he see fit. He has also provided a breakdown of how her estate was distributed and it is still £20k short of the amount she has told 6 family members.

    As he has proved himself unreliable and blatently lied about my nans wishes to have a formal will - we are all of the opinion that he cannot be trusted. What I would like to know is, do you think that her estate is still intestate and do the beneficiaries have the right to request copies of her closing statements. It is doubtful that he has applied for a grant of letters of administration and it looks as though he has just distributed the estate as he sees fit.

    Thanks again for your assistance. I wish I could send you flowers....

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Hi DeeBee779,
    It must be so hard for you all and really unnecessary. The piece of paper with her wishes on is worth nothing as you mention it was not signed dated or witnessed. I would maybe have more sympathy if he was trying to follow the wishes but it appears that he has taken it upon himself to do as he pleases.
    The intestacy rules stand and he should comply with them. If you are feeling generous and with consultation with the other legitimate beneficiaries maybe consider offering him the £5k provided he then deals with all other assets including the joint account under the intestacy rules?
    Just a thought and may not be appropriate but a negotiation point maybe? It is not up to him who gets what under the strict rules and it may be worth pointing out that you could sue him if needs be. I wouldn't recommend this course of action bearing in mind the situation with the joint account and the sums that we are dealing with but again another negotiation point and he doesn't have to know you wouldn't issue a claim. As I say the main issue is this joint account which legally is now his and unless he wishes to be reasonable or you can find anything in writing confirming that this was how your gran wanted the account dealt with I'm afraid legally you don't have a leg to stand on in respect of this account.
    It may be worth trying to play nicely to gauge what he is actually wanting to achieve, other than souring all family relations. (Maybe don't say that bit while you're playing nicely!)
    The residuary beneficiaries can request the closing statements from him and if he is not helpful then I would suggest contacting the bank and explaining the situation.
    If on seeing the closing balance you have any concerns I would suggest getting yourself a free half hour or reduced fee appointment with a contested probate specialist to go through what your next options could be. You can then weigh up what action if any to take.
    I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

    If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Once again, thank you Peridot, this is very helpful,

    We have drafted a letter and will be sending it to him this week. Very sad state of affairs and we could all kick ourselves now for trusting him to put her affairs in order. We should have checked and I really feel we only have ourselves to blame. Thanks again for your time, its much appreciated.

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    It's always a difficult situation. What I would say is once this is all sorted do make sure you all have your wills and any lasting powers of attorney sorted so hopefully this can't happen again in the future. Keep us posted and here if you need any more pointers.
    I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

    If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Quote Originally Posted by Peridot View Post
    It's always a difficult situation. What I would say is once this is all sorted do make sure you all have your wills and any lasting powers of attorney sorted so hopefully this can't happen again in the future. Keep us posted and here if you need any more pointers.
    Hi - I wondered if anyone could help

    To recap
    My grandmother died in May and despite telling me that my Uncle had her Will - it has now transpired that she has died intestate leaving 7 children. She often told me how much money she had and since her death my uncle divided her estate as he pleases. He has left 2 brothers out and not shared the remainder equally. I believe her estate to be approx £45-£50k but have no proof,only my grandmothers word.

    He has offered no explanation on how her estate was divided - he hasnt applied for probate or letters of administration and simply gave 4 envelopes of unequal cash to his 4 brothers and sisters. £20k is unaccounted for.

    Since my last post, we have wrote to him and he did not respond amicably. He has admitted to inadvertently breaking the rules of intestacy and asked for all beneficiaries to repay the money they received to correct this. He knows that this is impossible for my mum to do as she bought a small car and doesn't not have £4k to pay back. With regards to the missing money - he is highly offended but not offered any proof and asked not to be contacted! At this point we are still none the wiser as to whether he shared a joint account with my Nan.

    My mum and uncle have spoken to 1 solicitor but have been told that due to the small estate it would not be beneficial to the family to proceed down the legal route as the costs would outweigh any benefits.

    Does anybody have any suggestions on how we can get some closure on this, I feel really frustrated that the law only seems to be available to those who can afford it. We are by no means well off and cannot afford legal advice.

    It has been suggested that my mum applies for Probate and Grant of Administration. Would this then legally oblige him to provide closing statements etc? Also, what are the consequences, if any, of him unlawfully administering an estate? Would the beneficiaries need to pay back what they have received to correct the Estate or is my Uncle liable for correcting this?

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks




  23. #23
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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Hi DeeBee779,

    Such a shame your Uncle hasn't reacted well. I suppose he is trying to do the right thing by requesting the legacies back but I don't believe the beneficiaries are obliged to do this. As there is no Will, technically he has no powers, as he has not obtained a Grant (which is where the person dealing with the estate gets the power. If there was a Will the power comes from the Will). This doesn't help the current situation which to put right, will cost significant time and money for anyone dealing and may not achieve the outcome all the siblings would hope for in any event.

    I wouldn't think your mother obtaining a Grant would be helpful. She would then become liable as the administrator of the estate and your Uncle has 'intermeddled' significantly. It would be very time consuming and the whole estate would need to be unpicked to start again.

    As far as making a claim is concerned, I'm afraid it is a sad fact that unless we were discussing significant amounts of money it is not worth issuing Court proceedings. Proceedings are very costly and stressful. The result may be favourable to the beneficiaries, but equally the cost and time spent dealing with the matter could well outweigh any financial benefit they may receive as a result. It isn't fair when most of us consider £1,000 a significant amount of money worth fighting for, but the Court process is expensive and that sort of money is wiped out very rapidly.

    If I recall correctly did you say that the Uncle was a joint name on the bank account? If that was the case then the account automatically passes to him as the survivor. Legally the beneficiaries have no recourse in respect of the account. It seems that this issue is a moral one and not one that legally you could pursue. The fact that your grandmother indicated to you her wishes and told you what assets she had are unfortunately irrelevant.
    In the circumstances and bearing in mind any Court proceedings against the Uncle could very easily cost several thousand pounds, it is a case of weighing up what the potential benefit would be to the beneficiaries.

    Would the other beneficiaries consider pooling their legacies and then divide the pool equally between them (this would I anticipate exclude the Uncle of course) Just trying to think of other ways to deal with the issue really. It is a horrible, frustrating situation but I doubt you would find a lawyer willing to take the matter on. It may be worth obtaining another lawyers view in a free half hour or reduced fee appointment. I suspect their view may be similar to the previous lawyer though, I'm afraid.
    I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

    If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    Thank you Peridot, despite not being what we wanted to hear I appreciate your honesty (and tact - its surprising how insensitive some people can be when dealing with this type of thing). I just wanted a second opinion before we gave up. Thanks for your time.

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    Default Re: Beneficiaries of an Estate without a will

    You could just contact the other beneficiaries and see what they think then write to uncle and hint at legal proceedings if he does not cooperate. It may just make him come tot he table.

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