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Family offered free help to executor to clear property of deceased family member now have an invoice do we have to pay

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After a sibling died the others came together to clear the property with the sibling who is executor.

This help was given freely and at no time did anyone mention or talk about getting paid or expenses for said help.

 

Now suddenly an invoice has been sent to the executor for work carried out, this is a proper invoice as person is self employed.

But is the executor legally obliged to pay this from the estate?

 

We are aware that once the estate is settled if anything is missed the executor is liable personally.

So although this is clearly immoral it's the legal side that concerns us.

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Your account is a little bit vague.

 

Are you saying that one of the family members – who is also a beneficiary under the will – helped to carry out the clearance and is now putting in a bill for the cost?


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A member of the family who is not a beneficiary has sent an invoice.

It's an in law whose partner does benefit.

The help was none the less offered and received with no discussion of payment of any kind.

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You never requested or entered into an agreement for his paid services...let his partner pay him when they receive their settlement.

 

 

Andy


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This is my view.

But don't know how we stand legally.

 

Really don't want them chasing us for a payment they are not due.

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No contract, written or verbal = no offer and acceptance and no meeting of the minds = tell them to jog on

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You never requested or entered into an agreement for his paid services...let his partner pay him when they receive their settlement.

 

 

Andy

 

No contract, written or verbal = no offer and acceptance and no meeting of the minds = tell them to jog on

 

I'm afraid that I don't think that it is that simple. There is an old case but quite an important one – and blow me, I've completely forgotten the name of it – but the upshot is that there can be an implied contract depending on the circumstances. The broad rule is that if you volunteer to do a favour for someone then don't expect to get paid but if someone asks you for a favour then that request may include an implied promise to pay a reasonable price for the service.

 

The first thing which occurs here is that you say that the help was offered – rather than it was asked for. If that is the case (maybe you can confirm) then on the face it it would seem that this is a favour which has been volunteered and so the rule that I have given you above would appear not to apply and that the In-Law cannot claim that there was an implied contract.

 

On the other hand it seems to me that the law has moved on even from that enlightened time about 400 years ago when the rule in the case which I have referred to was first stated by the courts.

 

I think that one needs to look at all the circumstances. Firstly, the beneficiaries of the will are probably the trustees as well and they have a duty to clear the house and to liquidate the estate. Had the removal not been offered by the In-Law then the trustees would have been obliged to pay a commercial outfit to do the job instead. This means that the service provided by the In-Law was a very clear value and all of the trustees/beneficiaries have profited from it. To use a little more legalistic language, – all of the parties have become enriched by the service provided by the In-Law.

 

Furthermore, by providing the favour, the In-Law has presumably incurred various expenses – petrol money, use and depreciation of the vehicle, insurance risk – blah blah blah. At the very least I would say that he is entitled to recover these.

 

I would be interested to know what the value of the invoice is, are the expenses incurred by the In-Law itemised separately on the invoice? What would have been the cost of the service if it had been procured commercially?

 

My general feeling is that this is a situation where the circumstances which you have outlined could easily result in an implied contract and could be enforced by the In-Law.

 

You haven't talked about the amount which is being claimed by the In-Law – so I suppose that you don't think that the figure being sought is unreasonable. However it is worth mentioning there is a consumer rule – once again I can't offhand remember where in the legislation it occurs, but it says that where in a contract for services no price has been agreed, then a reasonable price will be implied.

This means that if you think that the invoice price is excessive then if you produce evidence to show that it should be lower in order to be reasonable then that probably should be the cost of the service.

 

Finally, you don't talk about the size of the inheritance but of course if there is any inheritance tax to pay then the kind of expenses involved in house clearance et cetera could legitimately be deducted from the capital sum which is available for taxation and therefore reduce the exposure of everyone.

 

And then as a final note, I don't know how many beneficiaries there are, but of course the removal cost will be shared equally between all of you – including the partner of the In-Law so that the loss might not be as serious as it might have been.

 

Maybe you can come back with some figures


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Lampleigh v Braithwaite [1615] EWHC KB J17


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Hi wow lot's to take in.

 

I can say that the amount of the estate is below inheritance tax threshold, the sum of the invoice is irelevant as is the size of the estate, this is why no values have been mentioned.

 

If the in-law had not offered the use of his van then the executor would of cleared the entire house himself as this was his intention from the start, being the executor, especially as this family is not close help was not expected.

 

The biggest benefactors of the will are children and the in-law who has charged the estate does not have children who benefit, nor does the spouse.

 

Everything you have stated seems to state that by accepting an offer of help the executor entered into a contract by default. I don't see how that is correct. If it is I will NEVER accept help again.

 

How can someone offer help no strings attached at time of offer and then add conditions later on?

It was not discussed and a business invoice arrived on the executors doorstep out the blue.

Details of which have not been scrutinised as looking at whether it's legal first.

Edited by dx100uk
un quote / spacing

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Not all favours carry a hidden sting in the tail. It really depends on the circumstances. As you can see, I have already suggested that the ruling in Lampleigh v Brathwaite would suggest that the In-Law in this case would not be entitled to claim. On the other hand it does lay down a general principle that there are circumstances where money can be claimed even though there was no contract apparently agreed at the time.

 

I think that the courts nowadays take a far more pragmatic view than they did 400 years ago – or at least I hope so anyway – and because clearly there is a service of some value here, clearly because the service would have to have been paid for somewhere along the line, then it seems arguable to me that the In-Law should be entitled to some reasonable compensation for the service he rendered.

 

If the In-Law came onto this forum seeking advice about it then I think I would have told him that it was worth having a go – especially as I can imagine that the amount of money involved is far less than the small claims limit so that he would only really be risking the claim fee.

 

I think in your opening post you talked about a lack of morality – but I'm afraid that I see a certain morality in paying for the service you receive – especially as the service had to be done by someone and would have had to have been paid by someone.

 

If there are, say, four beneficiaries – including the sister, then the cost of the service would be shared equally and so would only amount to 25% of the total cost for each beneficiary.

 

Is the amount of money being charged so serious as that? Or are we becoming a bit vexed about a matter of principle?

 

The executor would certainly have been entitled to deduct expenses from the estate – and if he had, would anybody have queried it or criticised it?


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it wasn't agreed beforehand so no contract formed, therefore invoice can be ignored.

A member of the family who is not a beneficiary has sent an invoice.

It's an in law whose partner does benefit.

The help was none the less offered and received with no discussion of payment of any kind.

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Not all favours carry a hidden sting in the tail. It really depends on the circumstances. As you can see, I have already suggested that the ruling in Lampleigh v Brathwaite would suggest that the In-Law in this case would not be entitled to claim. On the other hand it does lay down a general principle that there are circumstances where money can be claimed even though there was no contract apparently agreed at the time.

 

I think that the courts nowadays take a far more pragmatic view than they did 400 years ago – or at least I hope so anyway – and because clearly there is a service of some value here, clearly because the service would have to have been paid for somewhere along the line, then it seems arguable to me that the In-Law should be entitled to some reasonable compensation for the service he rendered.

 

If the In-Law came onto this forum seeking advice about it then I think I would have told him that it was worth having a go – especially as I can imagine that the amount of money involved is far less than the small claims limit so that he would only really be risking the claim fee.

 

I think in your opening post you talked about a lack of morality – but I'm afraid that I see a certain morality in paying for the service you receive – especially as the service had to be done by someone and would have had to have been paid by someone.

 

If there are, say, four beneficiaries – including the sister, then the cost of the service would be shared equally and so would only amount to 25% of the total cost for each beneficiary.

 

Is the amount of money being charged so serious as that? Or are we becoming a bit vexed about a matter of principle?

 

The executor would certainly have been entitled to deduct expenses from the estate – and if he had, would anybody have queried it or criticised it?

 

The estate itself is not split as simply as you say. Basically items have been given to the siblings and the money from estate to the children. So no the money isn't really being split evenly between beneficiaries it's all coming from the cut for the children. And no I don't have any children that benefit either. I understand what you are saying about someone having to be paid for sorting the estate. However as the executor in this case has enough finances they are not intending to charge for any such expenses so as to further help the children involved. The person sending the invoice is totally wrong in my opinion, open your mouth and discuss such things, that makes a contract. Don't send stuff through the post making it seem like a demand from nowhere. This person has a wealth beyond that of anyone involved in this matter. I see now how they obtained it! Thanks all, citizens advice beckons on this.

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you are talking utter tripe. No-one can invent a retrospective contract so basically the in-law has no grounds to ask for anything, morally or legally and morals clearly arent their strong point anyway. If you are an executor and fell like paying this then stop mang up excuses fro doing so and pay up and prepare to suffer the fall out for doing so when there is no earthy reason to justify paying.

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you are talking utter tripe. No-one can invent a retrospective contract so basically the in-law has no grounds to ask for anything, morally or legally and morals clearly arent their strong point anyway. If you are an executor and fell like paying this then stop mang up excuses fro doing so and pay up and prepare to suffer the fall out for doing so when there is no earthy reason to justify paying.

 

of course you are completely correct. No one can retrospectively invent a contract. However you have rather missed the point. That is not the approach which is taken. Far from being a retrospective contract, the courts' approach is to say that at the time the agreement was made to render the service, the circumstances are such that you could imply a contract.

 

As I have already said, I'm not particularly predicting the outcome of a claim – although my money tends to be on the In-Law at odds of about 6 to 4.


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The estate itself is not split as simply as you say. Basically items have been given to the siblings and the money from estate to the children. So no the money isn't really being split evenly between beneficiaries it's all coming from the cut for the children. And no I don't have any children that benefit either. I understand what you are saying about someone having to be paid for sorting the estate. However as the executor in this case has enough finances they are not intending to charge for any such expenses so as to further help the children involved. The person sending the invoice is totally wrong in my opinion, open your mouth and discuss such things, that makes a contract. Don't send stuff through the post making it seem like a demand from nowhere. This person has a wealth beyond that of anyone involved in this matter. I see now how they obtained it! Thanks all, citizens advice beckons on this.

 

I'm afraid that so far as Citizens Advice goes, this is well over their heads. However it costs nothing to get some extra advice.

 

If you feel convinced that there is no contract – which really means that if you feel convinced that if there was a claim against you you would win, then the best thing to do is simply refuse to pay and see what happens. You should hope that your In-Law will feel as unsettled about the whole matter as you do will decide not to take it any further.

 

However, if he does take it further then please let us know and we will try to give you the best advice we can.

If a claim is issued in the matter then assuming that you put in a defence, the case will be transferred to your local court. If this is not in the same area as your In-Law then this will add another level of difficulty for him and may be another factor in persuading him not to bother. On the other hand, if he did bother and if he did win – then this would add additional expenses to the value of the claim which you would be saddled with.

 

If you do receive a claim then we will help you draft a defence. However, if your In-Law happens to come here and ask us to help him draft claim – then we will do that as well. I hope you won't see this as siding with one particular party or the other. We are simply prepared to offer help to whoever comes here and asks for it.


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the rendering a sevice argument only sees the light of day when it involves a much longer term commitment such as looking after an elderly relative or working on a farm for a reduced income in the promise or expectation of receiving something in recompense later.

 

I cant see it being an argument for a one-off bit of shifting or going to the dump.

Now everyone involved is in the same position so if the executor hadnt dispersed the assets they could all whack in a claim for expenses and all it does is reduce the pot at the end.

 

the observation that this person who is executoe ahs the financial means to work or free is neither here nor there and doesnt change the liability for anyone elses bills. I still believe that they dont have grounds for asking for anything after the event.

 

However insurers have a different view when it comes to liability and offering to "help out" so read up on some fo teh cass where things have gone one way or the other. There were a couiple in the papers recently where it went either way according to what the judge liked or disliked about the versions of events

Edited by dx100uk
spacing

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What is this in-law's normal business? If it is removals/house clearance then it could be argued you did enter into an agreement for a service you knew would (normally) be charged for. If it isn't then surely no reasonable person expects family to invoice after the event. Simply being self-employed doesn't cut it for me if their normal work is in an unrelated field.

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Did you watch Judge Rinder on the tellybox today?

there were 2 cases near identical to yours and both were thrown out as they lacked any evidence of a contract and the words of Mr Rinder made it clear that any court would be forced to find in the same way.

 

loans without an agreement as to their terms, services rendered -nah, you need an agreement or they cannot be enforced.

This is the crux of the matter so matey boy slapping in an invoice may well have a point but the executor is not obliged to pay in any time frame without the prior agreement so you could say that yes, the money will be paid but not in the next 40 years and no interest either without a credit agreement!

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