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Thread: Joint beneficiary will not sign estate accounts and residuary agreement.

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  1. #1
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    Question Joint beneficiary will not sign estate accounts and residuary agreement.

    Our father died in 2012 and I was the sole executor and joint beneficiary for his estate along with my sister. Within a few months I was able to arrange his funeral, secure probate and pay all outstanding bills. I then put the remaining capital into an independent Executors account. I kept approx £2,000.00 in the account to pay any future bills associated with the property ie council tax, gas, electricity etc. I then distributed the remaining money equally with my sister. Unfortunately, the property was on the market for over four years before it was eventually sold. This meant that the £2000,00 put aside soon disappeared as the local authority billed me personally for all council tax, which rose to 150% after 18 months as well as other running and maintenace costs. Unfortunately, I was by this time spending several hundred pounds of my money paying bills on this property. After being on the market for 21/2 years I decided to invest some of my time completely redecorating the entire inside of the house and putting down a new carpet. After about 6 months this enabled me to secure a purchaser, but due to the awkwardness of the buyer it took another year before it was sold. The proceeds from this were put into the executors account and a set of accounts drawn up in which I detailed everything that I had spent and had receipts for. This was deducted from the balance remaining in the bank and the remainder being divided equally between myself and my sister. I then added the amount I had spent onto my share. I have sent my sister several copies of the accounts, with copies of all receipts and copies of a straightforward residuary agreement, which states she will make no further claim on the estate after she recives her share of the money. However, she refuses to sign and have her signature witnessed on both of these documents. Yet gives no reason for this. Throughout this time I have taken advice from my solicitor, who conducted the conveyancing, to ensure I was complying with the law., but was reluctant to put it completely in their hands as it would have cost a considerable amount of money and eroded still further the remaining money in the estate. I have written numerous letters over the years and tried to do everything in my power to resolve it. The only two options that seem open to me are to ask the courts for guidance on distribution and/or pay the money into the courts for them to distribute. So I asked my solicitor to give me some idea of the cost and timescle for doing this. They want £1080.00 upfront merely to write to her and establish that everthing possible, as a neutral act has already been done, before approaching the courts. Heaven knows how much they will want then. I would appreciate any advice on action that I could take to resolve this. I am not prepared to make any payment until both accounts and a suitable dicharge have been signed. Can I approach the courts myself directly and if so who do I contact and approximately how much would this cost.

    Many Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Joint beneficiary will not sign estate accounts and residuary agreement.

    Hi and welcome,
    As sole executor and if you have followed the instructions of the will as stated, then I personally would just distribute her share. The ball is then in her court if she wants to take action against you, If you have done as the will states and have done nothing only maintain the estate as an executor should then you have nothing to worry about in my opinion.
    In my opinion also your sister could have complained you were taking too long to distribute the estate, but as long as you kept her up to speed with accounts etc then you have done the right thing also.
    She could have taken action to get you removed , but as she hasn't or even threatened then I doubt she would take action now. I may be wrong this is only my opinion and others will be along to offer more advice.


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    https://www.carersuk.org/

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Joint beneficiary will not sign estate accounts and residuary agreement.

    Fully agree with @enaid.
    There is no requirement to have the beneficiaries sign anything off. It might just help if at some future date a challenge arises the executor can point at the documents and say" but you signed them off". Even if the accounts were "signed off" they can challenge them if later they spot a discrepancy or more informatio comes to light.

    If there is likely to be an "awkward" beneficiary, or the estate comprises real propertyor shares, executors are well advised to effect executors liability insurance, premiums paid out of the estate.
    Last edited by Amethyst; 12th January 2017 at 07:41:AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Joint beneficiary will not sign estate accounts and residuary agreement.

    Hi Macey12,
    It appears that you have done all that you could. I would ask whether your sister was consulted re home improvements, which was presumably to sell the property for the price you wanted? Why did it take so long to sell? Had you and your sister decided on the sale price and didn't want to accept less?
    As long as the maintenance of the property was necessary, you shouldn't have any issues demonstrating you have acted correctly. Did you have any offers prior to decorating and carpeting, that were significantly less than the value that you wished to achieve?
    Any bills due as a result of maintenance of the property, council tax, and other taxes, bills etc that fell due during the administration period are payable from the estate. As you rightly point out it probably saved the estate money not using solicitors to deal with matters, and I suspect the improvements that you made at the property probably enabled you to achieve a higher sale price?
    It may be worth pointing this out to your sister and also if you received previous offers that were far lower than you expected, point out the difference in the cost of improvements and the increase in the eventually accepted sale price (hopefully there is a difference in favour of the estate).
    Provided you have done everything you could to maintain and achieve the best price for any assets including the property, then you can't really be criticised, save for the amount of time it has taken to wind up the estate. On the facts that you have given I doubt any solicitor would advise her to make a claim against you. What would it achieve and surely it reduces any inheritance she is to receive in any event as she'd have to pay any of her legal fees for advice even without going to Court (which I do not believe she would be advised to do!)
    I'm not sure what sums you paid to get the house shipshape but if this is what your sister has the issue with, would it be an option to offer a to deduct some of the 'doing up' costs from your share? Just a thought for family relations sake, not because you are obliged to do this. Sometimes worth thinking outside the box a bit.
    As des8 said there is no obligation for the accounts to be approved by the residuary beneficiaries although it is good practice to try and agree them. I would say that you have tried. Has your sister communicated with you at all?
    I am a fully qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to assist you with a wide range of legal questions. I would be 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 advice I provide is without liability. I do not represent clients off forum. If in doubt seek professional face to face legal advice.

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