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NSW Beneficiary Problem Communicating With Executor of Will

Discussion in 'Wills and Estate Planning Law Forum' started by Beneficiary_M, 12 July 2015.

  1. Beneficiary_M

    Beneficiary_M Active Member

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    My sister is Executor to my mother’s Will. She, my other two siblings and I are each a beneficiary of the will.

    1. Early this year, my sister sent me a letter concerning dates for selling the house and asked me for my input. I emailed my reply but received a message from my email account saying that delivery of that email had “failed permanently”. Since I knew she was anxious to receive my reply I re-sent it and, as a precaution, also sent it to the Deceased Estate’s (her) solicitor and asked him to forward it on to her. Although I received acknowledgement from the solicitor saying he received the email, I did not receive any feedback from her.

    2. Last week I received another letter from my sister suggesting that the house be repaired and cleaned - she asked for my input. I responded by email and, as a precaution, also sent the email to the Estate’s solicitor and asked for it to be forwarded on. I did not receive acknowledgement of receipt of email from either, so I rang the solicitor to check if he had received it – he confirmed that he had not, so I re-sent the email to both parties. He then confirmed that he had received the (second) email. At that stage there was still no feedback / confirmation from my sister that she had received the email.
    A couple of days ago I received another email: my sister has written that I must refrain from sending “unnecessary emails” [the email she refers to was a reply to repairs she asked me to approve on the house]. She also said “Any costs associated with these unnecessary irrelevant emails will be itemized and forwarded to the parties that are responsible”. I don’t understand how my emailed replies could be considered unnecessary. I am sending email to the solicitor because my sister has contacted me for input and I have had problems sending my responses to her through email directly.

    Can you confirm whether the Estate’s (her) solicitor has a right to charge me for forwarding my emailed responses on to her?

    As she claims to not receive my replies, I find forwarding my replies to the solicitor a necessary precaution and most likely will need to do until the Estate is sold.
     
  2. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Hi Beneficiary_M,

    The solicitor may be charging your sister, and therefore the estate, for any time spent reading the email, executing its wishes, and communicating with you about receiving the email. A solicitor's time is always costly and every moment spent on client work will be charged to that client. This will be the case unless your sister and her solicitor has a capped fee arrangement. In short, the solicitor has a right to charge your sister for any work/time/attention sent on her client matters. Further, communicating with beneficiaries, including responding to their enquiries, counts as client matter, which would be charged to the deceased person and their estate. Your sister will likely be paying these fees out of the estate assets.

    If your email replies are not reaching your sister, perhaps you could try calling her up, or using some other means to contact her, and get another email address that will reach her. You can also call her up and verbally communicate your response to her.
     
  3. Beneficiary_M

    Beneficiary_M Active Member

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    Thanks very much for your prompt reply. I hadn't realised I would be charged just for asking the solicitor to pass on an email! Again, thanks for the great service this forum offers. It's good to know that in such stressful circumstances there is a place where I can get help anytime - and it's free.
     
  4. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    We are happy to help.
    Understand though that the lawyers* here, while we are happy to explain gas a matter of our own ethics, are not in a position to "second guess" what your own lawyer may have told you.
    I would encourage to you ask your own lawyer any questions you have about their work,
    and to insist on explanations that make sense to you.... that is part of what you are paying for.



    ----------------------------------------
    * Not everybody who posts here is a lawyer.
    And not all the lawyers who post here make it obvious.
     
  5. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    @Beneficiary_M , glad to have assisted. What I wrote is the usual case. It may be worth asking your sister for her fee arrangement with the lawyer specially. Solicitors can charge (and usually do charge) for time spent contacting their clients, or dealing with correspondences on their behalf. However, your sister's situation may be different.

    Again, it would be easier in the future to ask your sister for a direct email that will get through to her and that she reads. Perhaps, also, call/sms her after you send each email to prompt her that you have replied to her.
     

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