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Advice on no probate applied for


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This is quite historic but is eating at my mum now. I guess since she's 90 she's starting to think about what happens to her estate after she dies and it's brought this back to mind for her - she's convinced her dad will be spinning in his grave! Anyway - to the point...

 

My granddad and grandma divorced many years ago. Granddad had 2 "significant others" in his life afterwards, but I'm not sure if they were ever actually married. Mum says that they must have been because granddad was very "proper", although she can't remember a wedding, so I say it's open for debate - I shall refer to them as "wife" anyway.

 

His last "wife" had a son from a previous marriage - a pompous stockbroker that my granddad hated. Granddad had suffered a couple of strokes and my mum and her sister were a big help in caring for him and getting him back on his feet (or mobility scooter!). He told them that under no circumstances did he want her son to inherit anything and said that he was going to leave the house to mum and his money to her sister. He lived in his own home which he had bought long before "wife" number three was a part of his life and he was always well off for money, mum was forever telling him off for leaving bundles of cash in his bureau.

 

A while later granddad passed away and his "wife's" son suddenly appeared on the scene to "sort everything out" for her. Mum has always been very timid and would never question any authority figure and he certainly came across as authoritative! Granddad's "wife" said that there was no money to pay for the funeral and so my mum and her sister offered to pay, but then she said that her son had paid for it. Mum asked her if there was a will but she said that they had not been able to find one (it later came to light that a neighbour had seen him going into a solicitor's office in the town only a few weeks previously).

 

Not long after his death, his "wife" (or her son?) sold the house - I don't know how if the deed was in granddad's name - and she moved into a flat near to her son. Lord knows why since he still didn't visit her, it was my aunt who drove 40 miles each way to change her dressings when she was ill. Within a couple of years she passed away too and there was never any mention of a will or anything, so I guess that was all handled by her son again.

 

I've no idea if they ever applied for probate for granddad's estate and wouldn't know what to do about it even if they hadn't, but have promised mum I'll try to find out. It's just playing on her mind that the pompous stockbroker is living a life of luxury on granddad's money that he was determined not to let him have and that granddad has been cheated of his wish.

 

Thanks for reading - any advice appreciated! 

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Hello and welcome to CAG.

 

You can check for free on the Probate Office website if probate was granted on a will that your granddad left. If you want a copy of the will, there's a small charge and you can upload it. Last time I looked there was a short wait for this.

 

https://www.gov.uk/search-will-probate

 

Best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Thanks honeybee. What if there was no will as they claim? Would they still have to apply to handle the estate - sorry if these seem like daft questions but I've never had to deal with this sort of thing before.

 

I've checked that link and there is the right name and year (not sure of the exact date), but the wrong address. Might it be under a different address for any reason?

Edited by Jeansdaughter
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It's still worth checking that website, it's free up until the point you want to see a will.

 

If someone dies intestate and they leave enough, then probate could still be necessary. Lots of people don't leave wills.

 

I don't know the answer to the address question. Bear in mind that the date the probate office have is when probate was granted which is often months after the person dies. Probate for both my parents was granted the year after they died.

 

If you think there was a will, do you know the name of the solicitors who drew it up? They may have kept a record.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Hi HB

I've had a good scan through now and back-tracked through various record searches. I've found that the one with the same name is somebody else (born 3 years earlier than granddad). I've now checked for 10 years after granddad's death (way after his "wife" passed too) and there are no records of probate being issued to anyone.

 

His house was in a nice little Oxfordshire village (Zoopla current estimate 350k-400k) so I think probate would have been necessary, even if, as they allege, there was no will. Mum says he had shares and his family were fairly well heeled too so she suspects there would have been a few bob in a savings account. Since he was leaving the house to mum and the money to her sister she suspects they would have been similar in value since he was always very fair.

 

Mum has always suspected that this was done underhandedly and I'm beginning to think she has some merit. What would be her next step? Is there an authority that investigates things like this?

 

Thank you x

 

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I'll help as much as I can but I haven't seen a case like this. I expect other Caggers will be along if they have relevant experience too.

 

Sad to say, if you want to pursue this, you're likely to have to be your own detective. I'm not sure who deals with assets not being distributed according to a will, but I can't see them doing anything unless you have some kind of proof of what might have gone on.

 

You might be able to check for your granddad's marriages on Ancestry.co.uk who usually offer two weeks free trial but I don't know how far back their marriage records go. Can you give us an idea of when your granddad died please?

 

Also, the Law Society has a database of wills, I believe. That's more research for you.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Hi HB,

 

Thank you for your help. Once the pre-Christmas rush is out of the way and I get some time off work I'll sign up for Ancestry.co.uk and do some digging. Granddad died in 1992.

 

If I can't find anything I might just tell mum I found a record of a will leaving everything to his "wife". Sometimes a lie is the kindest thing. Better than her getting wound up about it after all these years. She's often commented that she didn't trust her stepbrother and thought he'd "stolen" the house and money, but it's getting more intense now and it's starting to play on her mind. Not healthy - which is why I promised her I'd play sleuth.

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If I were wanting to get to the bottom of this as far as I could I'd look in these places

 

First, do you have originals or photocopies of your granddad's birth and death certificates?

Is there any possibility that his surname was spelt differently to the one you used in your searches?

 

If not check on

 

https://www.ancestry.co.uk/search/

 

 

https://www.findmypast.co.uk/blog/getting-started

 

and see what what records it finds.

 

You can do a basic search on both of them without paying to subscribe but if you want to see the actual documents they list you have to subscribe.

 

Both sites have the same basic records - birth, marriage and death indexes are the ones to look at for your purposes.

 

If he had a fairly common name you may need to add as much additional information as you know to whittle down the many pages of results that it can produce.

 

Both sites often have 'free trial' offers - sign up, get the information you want, cancel. 

That should let you identify if there are any marriage records for your granddad. 

If you know the "wifes" full name and year of birth do the search on her as well and see if that brings up any marriage records.

 

If you then want copies of any birth/marriage/death certificates you can buy them from the GRO site (you need the information you found in the birth, marriage and death indexes to order copies) www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/login.asp

 

Another line of research would be, if the "wife" still has the house,  to get a copy of the Land Registry title register for the house which might tell you how it was transferred to her - costs £3.   https://eservices.landregistry.gov.uk/eservices/FindAProperty/view/QuickEnquiryInit.do

 

There's a lot of things that don't sound right in this. In particular if your grandad owned a house, had shares and bank accounts none of those could have been transferred to someone else without Probate being granted (if there was a Will and it had been found), or if there was no Will without someone being granted Letters of Administration. The Land Registry, Share Registrars and Bank don't transfer ownership to someone who just turns up with the Death Certificate.

 

Who investigates? No-one will investigate this except you! If you found evidence of Fraud it would be a matter for the police. But you will need something more than just not knowing how the transfers were made before the police will be interested.  But TBH, it's 30 years after all this happened, finding evidence won't be easy.

 

 

Edited by Ethel Street
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2 hours ago, Jeansdaughter said:

I've had a good scan through now and back-tracked through various record searches. I've found that the one with the same name is somebody else (born 3 years earlier than granddad). I've now checked for 10 years after granddad's death (way after his "wife" passed too) and there are no records of probate being issued to anyone.

Another thought, the link in post #2 only searches for Probate granted in England and Wales. Did your Grandad die in England or Wales? If he died in Scotland or NI the process is different.

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34 minutes ago, Ethel Street said:

Who investigates? No-one will investigate this except you! If you found evidence of Fraud it would be a matter for the police. But you will need something more than just not knowing how the transfers were made before the police will be interested.  But TBH, it's 30 years after all this happened, finding evidence won't be easy.

 

Also I've just noticed that the "wife" also died some 20 years ago so the police aren't going to be interested, I wouldn't have thought. There's no-one alive to investigate.

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Hi Ethel,

 

Thanks for replying.

 

Granddad died in Oxfordshire, so England it is. I'll have a look at those sites over the Christmas holidays when I have a bit more time. Obviously if they were married and there was no will, she's first in line anyway. I think checking to see if there was a will registered is an important step. Who knows, the visit to the solicitors office might have been to leave everything to her anyway - married or not. Unfortunately I've no idea which solicitor it might have been, but I believe they usually register wills. Hopefully if there is one it can be found. 

 

"Auntie" (as we knew her) wasn't young when granddad died, so as I say, all the affairs were taken care of by her son. I guess he would be about 70 now if he's still alive. If there was fraud involved, a pound to a penny it was his hand in it. I'll try to get the background first - married? will? then work on the next steps from there if they are relevant.

 

   

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4 hours ago, honeybee13 said:

Also, the Law Society has a database of wills, I believe. 

 

33 minutes ago, Jeansdaughter said:

but I believe they usually register wills. Hopefully if there is one it can be found.    

 

On that point what you may have in mind is the "National Wills Register" (aka "Certainty"), endorsed by Law Society but not run by them.

 

To save you searching for it it's here:  https://www.nationalwillregister.co.uk/willsearch/willsearch.aspx

 

Bear in mind though that it is entirely voluntary whether solicitors register Wills that they hold. There is no statutory or government register of Wills, not until the person has died and Probate/Letters of Administration are granted. I suspect only a minority of Wills are registered with them. And as you can see it's quite expensive to do a full search. And I believe it only started up in 2006 so it's anyone's guess whether a firm of solicitors would have registered a Will they still held that had been made in the 1980s.  So I'd say very much a long shot.

 

If the town where you think the solicitor was based isn't too large I might be tempted to write to all the solicitors there and ask them direct. Send them a copy of the death certificate and explain how you are related. Another long shot though. Many of the solicitors there in the 1980s will have gone out of buisness when their Partners retired.

 

The Probate office themselves also offer a Will storage facility. I've no experience of it but it's something else you could check out https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/store-a-will-with-the-probate-service/how-to-store-a-will-with-the-probate-service   Again, an entirely voluntary servcie. I've no idea how widely it is used.

 

Good luck. You are going to need determination and time! Let us know how you get on.

Edited by Ethel Street
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