When an executor of a will is dishonest - what are the rights of a beneficiary

Jane M

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Query for the legal eagles.. My father has recently received an inheritance from his sister who died recently. My uncle was nominated executor of his (unmarried) sisters will and hired a solicitor to assist him in dealing with the administration of the will. My aunt's will instructed her assets to be divided equally between her 3 remaining siblings. The assets included a house (that has now been sold) and cash. My query is that on inspection of the executor accounts (provided by the solicitor) there is an item marked as "monies paid to XX (uncle who is acting as executor) for the monies due to him for the maintenance of the deceased"
The amount was substantial. It shocked my father as at no point did my deceased aunt live with my uncle nor at any point did he ever give her money.
My Dad has asked me to look into this. My queries are as follows:

Is the solicitor acting on behalf of my uncle not legally bound to make sure my uncle has been honest in his duties as executor? He clearly hasn't been honest.
If so, should my Dad complain directly to the solicitor or what action should he take?
If not - does an independent ombudsman exist in this country that will accept complaints of this nature against an executor of a will?
 

Tintagel

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Did the executor have to maintain the house.......gardens, cleaning, utility bills, funeral costs......outstanding debts......?
 

Deiseblue

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Perhaps it would make sense to write to the solicitor concerned acknowledging receipt of the administration accounts and requesting an itemized list of the expenses incurred by your uncle ?
 

mathepac

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I'd be amazed if the solicitor responded to information requests from anyone other than their client, the executor.
 
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DirectDevil

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Some random thoughts;

1. Get a copy of the will as that is the document on which all arguments are based.

If the will has been admitted to probate (i.e. a grant of probate has issued) a copy of it should be available from the Probate Office.
If the will has not yet been admitted to probate the executor will likely tell you that there is no obligation to open it to a beneficiary.

2. Debts.

In principle, executors must settle any just debts against the estate before proceeding to distribute assets.
It is possible that Uncle Executor has a legitimate debt owed to him from the estate.
However, a legitimate debt is to be distinguished from contriving a supposed indebtedness to him based perhaps on some sense of self-righteous presumptuous entitlement or simply trying it on.

3. Miscellaneous.

a) If the debt is as utterly false as OP suspects that is a stateable fraud against the other beneficiaries.

b) If there is potential fraud it is best stopped before the estate is wound up and assets dissipated.
Once the assets have been distributed it becomes a hard job to recover any improperly received funds.

c) BTW in relation to the house I would be curious to know if the will said anything specifically.
I read it that Uncle Executor is also a beneficiary which is perfectly fine.
Uncle Executor may well have had the right to sell the house but I would like to know if there was discussion about this with the other two beneficiaries or if he act in a high-handed way to suit his priorities.

4. What would I do ?

i) Ask the executor's solicitor if the will has been admitted to probate.
ii) If yes, ask for a copy of the will and the Grant of Probate.
iii) If I suspected fraud I would then write to the Probate Office for a copy of the will to satisfy my suspicious mind that the copy of any will shown to me by the executor was actually the one admitted to probate.
iv) I would request full particulars of the uncle's claim on the basis that the details supplied are too vague.
v) If the will has not been admitted to probate I would threaten to lodge a caveat against it with the Probate Office.
Link http://www.courts.ie/rules.nsf/0/af5...256d2b0046b394
See section XIX on caveats.

5. What should you do ?

In view of the potentially hazardous territory to which this issue might bring you I would advise your father to retain a solicitor who will know the best way to go about dealing with this especially if there is fraud about.
It might turn out that all is in order but in view of the clear reservations this is better followed up than regretted in later years.
 

Thirsty

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Before getting all excited, check with the executor and ask the simple question as to what the sum of money entailed.

As executor for a relatives estate, I had to pay for insurance, maintenance, repairs, replacement locks etc., out of my own pocket and could not be refunded until probate was completed almost two years later. The amount was not insignificant.
 

Deiseblue

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I'd be amazed if the solicitor responded. Ito requests from anyone other than the client, the executor.
The residuary legatees being entitled to the final set of administration accounts are again entitled to ask that all entries are itemised rather than a final figure being simply placed against the Executor’s claim.
 

DeeKie

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The residuary legatees being entitled to the final set of administration accounts are again entitled to ask that all entries are itemised rather than a final figure being simply placed against the Executor’s claim.
That’s right.
 

NoRegretsCoyote

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How "substantial" was the amount?

If you don't feel comfortable posting precice numbers even a range would be relevant.
 

mathepac

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The residuary legatees being entitled to the final set of administration accounts are again entitled to ask that all entries are itemised rather than a final figure being simply placed against the Executor’s claim.
They can ask all they like, the solicitor acting for the executor has only one client and cannot breach that client's confidentiality to 3rd parties.
 

Deiseblue

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They can ask all they like, the solicitor acting for the executor has only one client and cannot breach that client's confidentiality to 3rd parties.
The solicitor on administering the Estate must account to the residuary legatees , amongst other things, for all debts discharged , if they require itemised details of such expenditure they are entitled to them as there is a fiduciary responsibility to keep such records.
The residuary beneficiaries can also request that the administration accounts be audited.
 
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