Q&A Executors sold off aunt’s estate when they had power of attorney. Can I challenge her Will?

Q:         My mother’s sister died this year. My mother had power of attorney when my aunt was alive, and she and my father were executors of her Will. My aunt left me £30,000 but had repeatedly said I could also have anything I wanted from the house, including valuable antiques and jewellery. When she died, however, all the valuables had disappeared. It seems my parents had been selling them off over the past few years, to pay for her care they said, but there is no proof of what money they got or what it was spent on. I have received my £30,000 but have been denied anything from the house. Can I do anything?

A:        If you are thinking of challenging your aunt’s Will you would need to do it within six months of the date when Probate was granted. But as she only left you money in her Will, and you have received the correct amount, you don’t have grounds for challenging it. Regarding the contents of her house being sold prior to Probate being granted, there is nothing illegal in that.

If your parents had power of attorney and felt there was a need to liquidate cash to pay for your aunt’s care, then there is nothing illegal in that either. However, it is normal for attorneys and executors to keep a record of any sale proceeds in case there are any later questions or disputes between beneficiaries, family members or HMRC.

Attorneys are bound by a duty to act in the best interests of the donor for whom they have taken responsibility. Executors are bound by a duty to carry out the wishes of the deceased who appointed them, and act in the best interests of the beneficiaries of the Will. You appear to be suggesting that your parents may not have fulfilled their obligations in these respects, and for that reason you should make an appointment to see a solicitor.

This question has been answered by Ulia Choudhry, a Partner with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter, please visit our website www.ghplegal.com and use the contact us form, or call us on: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194 

Ulia Choudhry

Ulia Choudhry

Partner

Ulia is a Partner who specialises in Probate, Wills, Trusts and Tax and is based in Wrexham