Mother-in-law died, 3 executors/ beneficiaries with different agendas

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    Mother-in-law died, 3 executors/ beneficiaries with different agendas

    Apologies if this is the wrong forum/ site for this question, google hasn't helped in the slightest but I did find my way here, perhaps someone can help/ point us in the right direction?

    In short, my wife's mother died a couple of months ago, along with her 2 sisters they are co-executors and beneficiaries. All assets have been sold/ divided with only the house remaining. Sister #1 is a know-all bully, sister #2 will follow sister #1's lead.

    It is my opinion that #1 is doing all she can to delay probate for as long as possible. Along with her not too bright, but oh so knowledgeable about everything husband they see the property as something to provide income immediately and a retirement fund (we're all in our 50s), not split 3 ways it won't!

    My wife wants to sell as soon as practical, basically to get closure and avoid any future contact with her sisters.

    Under English Law, can #1 (with #2's almost definite support) simply let the house out to a friend, at around 50% of (googled) market value without the express consent of her sisters (signed legal document)? The premise is that it is for one year, but to me the circumstances of the prospective tenant don't add up to make it viable for a single year, 3 at the minimum would be my guess, maybe longer. This is not in my wife's interests and neither would it be her mother's wishes of how her estate should be settled, unless all were in agreement of course.

    Any help/ advice would be welcomed and appreciated, yes I know we can go to a solicitor and pay a lot of money that would eventually come out of the estate and benefit nobody other than the solicitors at the end of the day. If there's something out there in black and white that says 2v1 wins or the one has a veto, it would be so useful to know.

    Just a thought. Could you not get the house valued and get the 2 sisters who want to keep the house buy your wife out for a third of its valuation. Your wife gets her inheritance now and the others can do what they want.


      Originally posted by patray View Post
      Just a thought. Could you not get the house valued and get the 2 sisters who want to keep the house buy your wife out for a third of its valuation. Your wife gets her inheritance now and the others can do what they want.
      I agree it would be an ideal scenario, but neither will be in a position to buy her out now or in the foreseeable future, they'd need the income from selling the house to be able to afford it!. The house has been valued for probate purposes, so probably lower than market value.

      There won't be any amicable solution to this, whoever has the control (at the moment #1) gets what she wants, hence the desire to know just what the law says, but preferably not paying for an opinion that requires more outlay for a judicial decision.


        In my opinion, I think you need to arrange a meeting with #2 and then #1, individually and explain your perspective and why. Sadly this is where families struggle. Let your wife try and use empathy for why etc it would be a shame not to sell it and give you all closure. It was the family home... etc.

        I think that is where your key lies. Try and get #2 onside or at least see your perspective so that #1 won't have such a easy ride on coercing #2. Personally, sounds like #1 needs to be dealt with firmer, perhaps via letter instead of shes too dominating in person.


          You need a solicitor but my opinion is that they have each been bequeathed a share in the property.

          If there's nothing in the will to suggest the property must be sold for inheritance to be divided then they each retain that share until an agreement is reached.

          Your wife cannot be forced into letting out the property. I believe it will need her express consent and I would suggest she advises the solicitor dealing with the probate that she does not give that permission.

          By the same token I dont think your wife can force them to sell and so you are going to end up in a stand off. You wont find an investor willing to buy a third share I doubt and if the sisters aren't in a position to buy her out, then there's going to be an empty property sitting in the family for many years leaving little value to anyone.

          It's really sad that money becomes an issue and an argument when someone dies. I think the solution is to talk calmly and explain the reasons you would like to sell. I seriously wouldnt admit to it being in order to cut all ties!. Maybe you could say you need the money for other things, have an investment opportunity...


            If they are proposing to let to their friend for less than MV get a local letting agent to appraise it and show his monthly figure to #2


              Named Executors temp administer the deceased's Estate for the benefit of all Beneficiaries.
              In the absence of further Deceased wishes, I would suggest a majority Executor vote is acceptable.
              Suggest the disputed Property is sold at Public Auction


                Could the two sisters not take out a (small) mortgage to pay off your wifes third?


                  The will determines if the exectors have to agree or whether the majority can prevail.
                  I'm no expert, but I think in England and Wales if it doesn't say anything, it has to be unanimous unless a court determines othewise.
                  Scotland might be different.

                  It's possible for the majority of executors to apply to a court to remove the dissenting executor or vice versa.

                  The same applies to any decision to let the property, it has to be unanimous.

                  However, if the two sisters let the property to a tenant regardless, that would be a valid tenancy but the income would belong to the deceased's estate (as that's the owner of the property).
                  If the executors take the rent, or any of the rent, for themselves, they would almost certainly be in breach of their duty as executors, as they are profting from the estate, which they must not do.

                  So the majority of executors can't do what they want (and could be removed - via a court - if they try) and the minority can't do what they want but could possibly be removed by the majority).
                  It's an impasse.

                  If the executors are planning to let at an under market rent there must be a reason.
                  Their duty is to maximise the value of the estate, and that may also be a breach of trust (but that's a bit of a stretch, unless they're getting something in return for letting at an undervalue rather than selling).
                  When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                  Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).


                    Many thanks to all for replying.

                    In no particular order - lines of communication with #1 have been closed by her, apart from the occasional abusive email, she's been doing this for years with family (and I guess ex-friends too) if she can't get what she wants, how she wants it and when she wants it then abuse if followed by silence, frequently for many years, the lucky ones just got the wall of silence and moved on with their lives.

                    #2 is currently so under #1's thumb it would take something seismic to change that position, it may be in here already, it may not be.

                    I'd very much doubt all 3 of them will ever be in the same place at the same time again and even if they were there is little chance of constructive discussion occurring let alone any agreement.

                    A few ideas to work with, or more to the point just what to ask a solicitor. This might seem a daft question, but I'll ask anyway, should we be looking for a solicitor that deals with family law, wills and probate or property specialists?


                      You can go to County Court and force the sale quite easily:

                      Trusts of Land (ToLATA) The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.

                      I did all the paperwork, court application about 18 months ago for a friend. It was very easy - I didn't need to use a solicitor and the Judge ordered the sale. I think the Court fee was about £250.


                        You probably want a specialist in family law, as it's unlikely outside a huge firm that they do only that.

                        Unless the property is worth millions, you probably want someone local with five or six practitioners, at least one of whom is an actual solicitor.
                        There'll be one or two on most town high streets.

                        Most will meet for 15 minutes or so to evaluate your situation in order to give you some indication of likely outcomes and ranges of cost.

                        If you visit more than one, a) you'll find one that suits you best and b) your conversation with the second will be informed by the discussion with the first.

                        Just one thing, on re-reading your original post, you mention that #1 sister seems to be delaying probate.
                        Because the property isn't being sold by the executors prior to probate in order to make the value of the estate certain, it is only probate that would allow the sisters to inherit the property as joint owners so it can be let out.

                        - If the property is sold before probate, it can't be let by sisters #1 and/or #2 unless they buy it.

                        - If probate is completed and the property inherited by the three sisters, it can't be let without the consent of all (mechanically it could be, but the income would belong to all three owners and it would be a mess).

                        - If probate is not complete and the property not sold, it remains the property of the estate, and any income derived from letting it would belong to the estate, not the executors*. As above, letting below market rent is not something you would expect an executor to want to do because that breaches the duty of an executor to maximise the value of the estate.

                        There doesn't seem any upside to sister #1 to delay probate related to this matter, unless I'm missing something.

                        Other than your wife's (understandable) desire to move on, simply leaving the matters at an impasse will either compel sisters #1 and/or #2 to have to compromise to get anything done (your wife has to sign off the probate form, so she can simply prevent any conclusion she objects to) or they will get frustrated and do something that they shouldn't.

                        *And would be subject to income and inheritance tax if applicable.
                        When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                        Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).


                          Many thanks jpkeates I do take note of your sig, so we'll be doing our utmost to verify the info you've given ASAP via a solicitor. If there's anything that you've given us that is of clear benefit I'll be back via private message to sort out a bottle (or two) of what you like!

                          I'm also aware that the thread is maybe wandering away from what this site is about, hopefully not too far off to cause any issues.

                          No idea what #1 thinks she has to gain by delaying probate, but she definitely believes there is an advantage to her by doing so.

                          Rather than use a sourced by my wife solicitor for probate #1 has manipulated her sisters to use one from the practice that she uses and for her to be the spokesperson, isn't this a conflict of interests?

                          Her reason for the vastly reduced rent is that her friend is 'doing us a favour' by care-taking the property.


                            I've heard that one before.
                            It's always mistaken.
                            Any tenant would take care the property they rent, in fact they have to (the property has to be returned in the condition it was given less fair wear and tear otherwise the landlord can claim compensation - regardless of who the tenant is).

                            Who's more likely to look after a property, someone who pays a lot of rent, has no relationship with the landlord and can be evicted if they don't look after the place or someone who pays a reduced rent, knows the landlord and is pretty much safe from eviction for any reason.

                            The key question is what would sister #1 do if their friend didn't pay the rent one month or didn't take good care of the property?

                            Wanting to direct the disposal of part of the estate to benefit a friend of one (or more) of the executors is probably a conflict of interest.
                            Although, I don't see how that is a possible outcome unless your wife gives up.

                            The probate solicitor shouldn't be an issue - it's a routine thing for them to do, and they can't do much to direct the outcome.

                            Unless the will says they can, one executor can't be the spokesman for the others without the consent of all of the executors - it's not a democracy, it has to be unanimous.

                            While in many things, being the unreasonable person can be an advantage, where there are multiple people, each with a veto, it's a poor choice.
                            One of the simplest things for your wife to do to help with closure is simply to close the issue in her mind.
                            She doesn't have to agree to anything, and, without her, there's nothing her sisters can do to resolve the estate and probate.
                            Nobody gets anything from the estate until after probate, and if they try and use the estate to their advantage they're in breach of trust and an attempt can be made to remove them as executors.
                            Wait them out.

                            But proper legal advice is the way to go.
                            Anonymous people on forums should only be trusted so far...
                            When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                            Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).


                              Certainly not me, as I suggested the Executors could reach a majority decision, but they all must act in the interest of ALL Beneficiaries or risk being replaced.


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