De Bonis Non without prior Grant

We have an estate where a tenant in common died intestate - her husband seemingly didn’t administer the estate, he then died intestate and Letter of Admin have been obtained.

The property is own tenants in common with a sibling who has also died and her Executor is dealing with the sale.

We suspect that to obtain the funds technically due to the husband’s estate from the solicitors acting in the sisters estate some proof of entitlement will be needed.

HMRC and PLC are unclear, can you obtain Letters of Admin de bonis non without a previous grant being obtained?

Or should I be looking to obtain another type of Grant?

Many thanks

Lyndzey Smissen
Paytons Solicitors LLP

I suggest that Lyndzey initially concentrates on the title documents of the property concerned.

Was the property owned by her own deceased and her husband and sister, or just by her deceased and her sister?

In the former case, did the couple own a specific share between them [eg 50%] and was that held as tenants in common or jointly between them?

In any case, it is likely that the legal title to the property will have passed to the last surviving co-owner, and then to his/her PRs. You should therefore consider what evidence he/she/they require in order to distribute in favour of your client/estate.

Clearly, you also need to consider how the equitable share of the property passed. For example, if the initial deceased’s estate [or that of her husband] may have incurred inheritance tax liability, and/or other debts.

Kevin Mullen

If I have understood the position correctly, W and her sister (S) held a property as tenants in common. W died intestate, survived by her husband (H), who has since died intestate. S died after W and her executor is dealing with a sale of the property.

As no action has been taken to administer W’s estate, it seems to me that her beneficial share of the property remains in her estate and it is for those now entitled to the estate to seek a “normal” grant under intestacy.

The question is who those are who are entitled. If W died more than 12 years ago, it would appear that H will have lost his right to the statutory legacy (see John Barnett’s post of 23 June). Even if W died within 12 years if W’s share of the property proceeds exceeds H’s statutory legacy (including interest) W’s children or sibling(s) will be entitled to a share of the estate, and would be entitled to a grant under NCPR 1987 R.22.

It will then be a case of whoever takes the grant in the estate of W, liaising with the administrator of H’s estate to identify his entitlement. One has to look at the value of the estate as at the date of distribution, not the date of death value (Re Chateris 1917).

Paul Saunders FCIB TEP

Independent Trust Consultant

Providing support and advice to fellow professionals

Thank you both for the detailed replies.

W did own the property as tenants in common with S.

S executor is currently in the process of selling the property but is refusing to correspond with us about the eventual distribution of the proceeds of sale.

We are well within 12 years and even with interest the amount due to W’s estate is not close to the Statutory Legacy.

W’s children are not H’s children and are also hostile - they will not be willing to take a Grant that doesn’t financially benefit them.

I have asked the Probate Registry for their view but it could take a while. Does H’s administrator as eventual beneficiary of the proceeds from W’s share of the property have any standing to apply for the Grant?

Many thanks

Lyndzey Smissen
Paytons Solicitors LLP

If the sister’s executor wants to sell the house and it is in the joint names of W and S as Tenants in Common, she’s going to need the co-operation of the Wife’s estate to do so. I suggest all you need to do is put some kind of Notice on the title (not a conveyancer-sorry) and wait to be re-approached.

Julian Cohen
Simons Rodkin

If in the events that have occurred, H can be the only beneficiary of W’s estate, I can see no obvious reason why H’s administrator should not be able to obtain a grant to W’s estate.

However, if there are other potential beneficiaries of W’s estate there may be scope for dispute between them and H’s administrator and if H’s administrator obtained a grant they would be in a position of conflict (which cannot be good).

As Julian Cohen suggests, you should do something to protect the interest of W’s estate. If you know who is dealing with the conveyancing, it might be appropriate to put them on notice that you will be looking to them to account directly to the administrators of W’s estate for her share of the sale proceeds. Their response (if any) could be instructive!

Paul Saunders FCIB TEP

Independent Trust Consultant

Providing support and advice to fellow professionals