Wills and inheritance - Some advice if possible

dUnKle

Distinguished Member
An older friend of the family has found out in last week or so that he is the executor to his cousins will
However this is a “joint” role with the solicitors that his cousin used. As such a burden has been relieved from him and he able to leave most of the work to the chap dealing

However he has been worrying (I believe, with solicitor being involved, unnecessarily) due to something that’s cropped up and whilst he plans on speaking to the man at solicitors in the week I just thought someone here may have some idea that could put his mind at rest and help him get good nights sleep

His cousin was never married. However he lived with his partner for just under 30 years in her home which she owned outright. He was never on the deeds etc but did contribute to the day to day upkeep and yearly maintenance etc. They did, in effect, live as a married couple and shared everything

When his partner passed a few years ago she left the house to her two sons. However, with the stipulation that her partner could live there until he himself passed away.

He did so a couple of months back and within days the house was emptied and sold

Fair enough. That’s what was expected and the two sons obviously wanted what had been left to them

However, our friend has had a letter from the solicitor about about his cousins “right of occupancy” and that this could grant him a portion of that property for his estate. Friend tried to ask the two sons about this very informally just trying to confirm that property was sold etc (he realises he should of left this to solicitors but he does speak to the sons on occasion a they have been asking about the will) and now things have gotten a bit heated

have said that best option is a call to the chap at solicitors in morning when open and get more advise and leave to them if they joint executors, but, in mean time, does anyone know about this “right of occupancy” and how may effect things ?

as I understand it, his cousin had no children of his own, the two sons being children of his partner from a previous relationship.

cheers
 

The Dreamer

Distinguished Member
I always understood that if a couple weren’t married, then each partner had zero claim to the other‘s assets. I wonder if it is the specific wording of their ‘agreement’ that has thrown up this issue - TBH I’d never heard of this right of occupancy until your post, so will be interested in the answer.
 

RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
Unfortunately, nothing brings out the worst in some people like the sniff of an inheritance. If he wants an easy life he can renounce his executorship & leave it all to the solicitor.


A bit naughty to name someone as executor of your will without consulting them & seeking their agreement.

As for being entitled to a share of the property, that seems unlikely. But as @The Dreamer says, may depend on the exact wording of the will(s).
 

dUnKle

Distinguished Member
Cheers guys
At a guess I would suggest he was probably asked about being the executor many many years back and just “forgot” possibly why solicitors are also down as executor just in case one out lived the other

I have told him not to worry but think he is worried about being left out of pocket / having to provide shortfalls etc. I have tried reassure him around this as (and I am only guessing) this would not be possible

Thanks for the comments about renouncing the executorship
Is there any issues with doing this ? Other than him feeling may have let down his cousin ?
 

RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the comments about renouncing the executorship
Is there any issues with doing this ? Other than him feeling may have let down his cousin ?
On the contrary, it will absolve him of all responsibility & liability.

Who cleared/sold the house? That should have been done by the executors of the cousin's partner's will, after being granted probate. Were the sons executors of her will?

I can see a conflict here. If the cousin had any possessions of value then they should have been disposed of by the executors of his will, & the proceeds added to his estate. If the sons pocketed everything that that might be where a claim in favour of your friend could arise.

I'd suggest he would be best served by renouncing the executorship. But he should probably seek advice from another solicitor first, who is independent of it all. I would think he would need a third party anyway to renounce, in order to ensure there is no conflict of interest.

I should stress that this is all just my lay opinion.
 

dUnKle

Distinguished Member
Thank you
I think anything of any real value along with sentimental items has been “stored” and not disposed of

I shall have a quick chat. Hopefully after he speaks with solicitor he may be happier
 

Delvey

Distinguished Member
I always understood that if a couple weren’t married, then each partner had zero claim to the other‘s assets. I wonder if it is the specific wording of their ‘agreement’ that has thrown up this issue - TBH I’d never heard of this right of occupancy until your post, so will be interested in the answer.
Been in law for a while now.
 

dUnKle

Distinguished Member
Cheers guys
Spoken to him
He is keen on just handing it over to the solicitor and he says solicitor has said he can just have minimum contact whilst work is done.
He seems to think that the “issue” may be due to the amount his cousin spent on the property in the last few years but he is satisfied that he will not end up out of pocket in terms of expenses
 

oneman

Well-known Member
Cheers guys
Spoken to him
He is keen on just handing it over to the solicitor and he says solicitor has said he can just have minimum contact whilst work is done.
He seems to think that the “issue” may be due to the amount his cousin spent on the property in the last few years but he is satisfied that he will not end up out of pocket in terms of expenses
Why would the executioner end up out of pocket ? All expenses relating to executing the will can be claimed from the estate.

And your opening post you said the thinking was the solicitor being involved unnecessarily, well I think the issue validates the whole reason why the solicitor has been involved. While their fees will likely be in excess of £10k assuming its a relatively simple estate, the cost of dealing with legal action if there is a problem could run unto may times that amount, never mind the mental stress it will cause.

There are various scenarios depending on if your friend is a beneficiary or not and what they want to happen. Personally I was involved in one will where it was challenged by a relative and the advice of the solicitor was to pay them off rather than go through a length and expensive legal battle.
 

dUnKle

Distinguished Member
i think he knew in his head that wouldn’t be out of pocket but just a natural worry with this being something that has never happened before and no experience of

He has spoken to solicitor and is arranging to go in and discuss further around renouncing being executor. He is due to have something left him but that I don’t know about

the thing with the house and the estate was something to do with calculating inheritance tax he says. Again not sure. Difficult when it’s third party but all the help is appreciated
 

oneman

Well-known Member
i think he knew in his head that wouldn’t be out of pocket but just a natural worry with this being something that has never happened before and no experience of

He has spoken to solicitor and is arranging to go in and discuss further around renouncing being executor. He is due to have something left him but that I don’t know about

the thing with the house and the estate was something to do with calculating inheritance tax he says. Again not sure. Difficult when it’s third party but all the help is appreciated
Sorry, I misread your message. I see you meant that your friend shouldn't worry because there is a solicitor involved, that the solicitor is unnecessary.

Anyway there is potentially Inheritance Tax implications based on the type of occupancy rights the cousin had. I would honestly tell your friend to leave it to the solicitor as that is what they are getting paid for. It may mean that the children may lose out on some of the estate but this has nothing to do with your friend, it's a legal thing and how their mum set up the occupant and nothing your friend can do about it I would suggest a policy of telling the truth, the child ask what is happening then then just tell them the solicitor is dealing with it and your friend has no influence about the situation.

The problem may be that the children know your friend is getting something and to them if they lose out on some of the estate it feels like your friend is causing it to happen, it really isn't, it's down to the original will of their mum. even if your friend doesn't want anything from the estate there is nothing he can do. It legally has to be collected else it's tax avoidance.


 

dUnKle

Distinguished Member
Thank you
Very kind and most appreciated

I think he a lot more settled now having spoken again with solicitor
Yes it does sound like you say, that the sons realise there may be an impact on them, however, as I underhand it, they are due to get a good share of the deceased estate anyway so I’m guessing it’s swings and roundabouts for them
 

oneman

Well-known Member
Thank you
Very kind and most appreciated

I think he a lot more settled now having spoken again with solicitor
Yes it does sound like you say, that the sons realise there may be an impact on them, however, as I underhand it, they are due to get a good share of the deceased estate anyway so I’m guessing it’s swings and roundabouts for them
As I said, this is nothing your friend did. It's the way the mum's will was setup. The solicitor should explain this to the sons.
 

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