Home Money Our father died seven years ago, why are we still waiting for £200,000 from our inheritance? TONY HETHERINGTON investigates

Our father died seven years ago, why are we still waiting for £200,000 from our inheritance? TONY HETHERINGTON investigates

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State of chaos: Tehsin Aslam, above left, put his will writing company into liquidation

Tony Hetherington is the Financial Mail on Sunday’s star investigator, battling readers’ corners, revealing the truth behind closed doors and winning victories for those left penniless. Find out how to contact him below.

Mrs. IA writes: My two brothers and I inherited £320,000 from my father when he died in 2017.

He hired Abacus Wills & Trusts Limited to prepare his will and establish a family trust, and asked the company’s owner, Ms Tehsin Aslam, to be the executor.

In the end he distributed £120,000 to us and was due to pay more last December. But we haven’t heard anything and we believe we are still owed £200,000.

Tony Hetherington replies: From When you contacted me in January, there have been more twists and turns to this story than you might expect from a barrel full of rattlesnakes. And more tail stings than you’d get from a wasp nest. I have never seen such a complete, confusing and contradictory mess in a deceased’s estate.

State of chaos: Tehsin Aslam, above left, put his will writing company into liquidation

Sheffield-based Abacus Wills & Trusts Limited no longer exists. Its director, Tehsin Aslam, put it into liquidation in 2018 when it faced debts of around £68,000. I found an unsatisfied county court judgment against the company for £2,250.

In 2019, Aslam created the similarly named Abacus Wills & Trusts Global Limited, now based in High Wycombe. He also has an unsatisfied court judgment against him, for £1,682.

Aslam was named her father’s executor in the will she drafted in 2015, and her new firm was tasked with obtaining a grant of probate and then distributing bequests. Applying for a grant of probate involves filing a tax return. Aslam valued her father’s estate at below £325,000, i.e. less than the starting point for inheritance tax.

But he completely omitted the value of a house his father owned in Wembley, north-west London, which is now said to be worth around £600,000.

Aslam told me: ‘Mr A was divorced from his ex-wife. As part of the financial settlement, Mr A was ordered to hand over the property to his wife.

True, except that the court order made him conditional on paying his father £70,000, which his mother refused to pay. The transfer was never presented in the Property Registry.

And if Aslam believed the 2008 divorce meant his mother owned the Wembley house, why did he include it in his father’s will in 2015? Or, if her mother still owes the £70,000, why didn’t Aslam declare this in the probate application? I asked her, but she repeatedly failed to submit her tax calculations.

His father’s will leaves most of his estate to a family trust, with Aslam as trustee. But your father, guided by Aslam, created two different trusts. Why, I wondered, had your father signed both?

Aslam told me that they sent two different deeds to his father. And he added: ‘He decided to keep all the trust documents in his possession. ‘He did not send them to my office for storage as we would have checked whether the documents had been executed correctly.’ Trash. You and your family had a certificate confirming that the company held both deeds. The certificate was signed by Aslam herself.

Then there is an Expression of Wishes, signed by your father, listing his investments and saying which beneficiaries should receive them. These letters are not legally binding, but executors typically respect them.

However, his father’s wishes contradicted his will.

Aslam claimed ignorance. He told me that he met his family after his father’s death and said, “They didn’t mention the existence of an Expression of Wishes document.”

And she protested: “The expression of wishes is prepared by the client personally, we don’t know.”

Garbage again. When I told her that she had a copy of the document, presented in the same way as other Abacus documents and printed in the same font, Aslam finally admitted that it had been prepared by her company. Then there is the enormous delay in the payment of legacies. Aslam blamed the delays on Covid. This really is like saying the dog ate his homework. Your father died in 2017 and now it’s 2024.

Just one latest example of this mess is Aslam admitting that his father’s estate still contains premium bonds. This is ridiculous! Bonds can only earn awards for one year after the holder’s death. Therefore, any awards since 2018 should be rejected and money tied up in bonds should have accrued interest.

At the heart of all this is the fact that anyone can set up a will writing company, write wills, name themselves executor and then create a mess for the family of the deceased. No legal qualifications needed.

Aslam is not going to step aside. Please hire a proper attorney to obtain a court order to remove her, appoint a replacement for her, and then consider suing her and her company for wasting seven years.

Amazon in a mess over the disappearance of a MacBook

DW writes: I ordered an Apple MacBook Air on Amazon and it cost £1,444. When it arrived, the package did not contain a computer but rather office supplies. I returned this and Amazon said the refund should take two weeks.

No refund came, so I called Amazon and answered questions about the returned package. Weeks later, Amazon asked the same questions again.

I responded, but Amazon’s response has been to send me identical questions.

Disappearing act: an Apple MacBook Air from Amazon turned out to be nothing from stationery

Disappearing act: an Apple MacBook Air from Amazon turned out to be nothing from stationery

Tony Hetherington replies: I contacted Amazon who quickly told me they would refund the money. But strangely enough, she was threatening to take away his refund unless he returned the office supplies, which he had already done. And then Amazon decided that his computer had been stolen and in impeccable American terminology asked him to contact the ‘Police Department’ to get his ‘zip code’.

I told Amazon that the police would ignore a theft report from you because you never had the computer. Amazon was the real victim and should report the theft. This worked. Amazon told me: “We regret that the customer experience in this case did not meet the high standards we expect.”

Amazon has already refunded the entire £1,444 to your bank account.

If you believe you are a victim of financial irregularity, please write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY or email tony.hetherington@mailonsunday.co.uk. Due to the large volume of inquiries, it is not possible to provide personal responses. Please only send copies of the original documents, which we regret cannot be returned.

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