A woman involved in a contentious probate matter lost £86,765 in estate money after choosing non-solicitor advisers to represent her, reports the Daily Mirror.
After the death of her aunt, the woman was granted probate, but this was subsequently challenged by two other parties, who said she had no right to the estate’s assets. The woman refused to return the assets, but eventually a court order was made to revoke the grant of probate and appoint an interim administrator.
Unfortunately, when presented with the legal challenge, instead of going to a solicitor specialising in contentious probate, the woman approached a non-solicitor conveyancing firm. And although the firm had no expertise in this area, they agreed to represent her. At the request of the firm she then transferred £86,765 of estate money to them for ‘safekeeping’.
By the time the grant of probate was revoked, much of the estate money had been used to pay the firm’s fees, and to make matters worse, the firm had entered liquidation. Consequently, the woman must now personally repay almost £87,000.
Her biggest mistake was to instruct a legal services provider who was not qualified to carry out contentious probate work. In addition, the firm had no insurance policy from which to compensate its client nor was there a regulatory body she could call on for redress. Solicitors are prohibited from handling matters that are outside their area of expertise. It is a disciplinary offence for them to do so and could lead to their being struck off. Solicitors are amongst the most regulated professionals in the country, and all solicitor firms carry compulsory insurance for the benefit of their clients.
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