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Financial abuse warning

Executor stole from dead woman’s estate to buy house

A very recent financial abuse case concerning the defrauding of a charity by the executor of a Will,  who incidentally was also a solicitor, brings sharp focus on how easily cases of financial abuse can go under the radar and serves as a warning to beneficiaries to be on their guard to protect against it.

Ruth Ballin died in June 2016 and had left her estate worth £1.6 million to Canon Collins Educational and Legal Assistance Trust 2017. The Trust carries out social justice work and helps the poor access education in Southern Africa and had been supported by Mrs Ballin for several years.

Labour Councillor and solicitor, James Allie had been appointed the executor of Mrs Ballin’s Will.  He obtained a Grant of Probate on 12 January 2017 but did not notify the charity about the Will or the Grant of Probate.

Then, instead of administering it as instructed in her Will, he secretly used some £580,000 to purchase a property where he has resided since 2017.

The charity brought a case for financial abuse which was heard by the High Court in early December.

Judge David Rees QC ordered that Mr Allie hand over the house, which was bought through a company of which he is sole director, plus any remaining money from the estate.

He was ordered to vacate the property by 31 January 2020.

The charity is further seeking £72,000 in legal costs from Mr Allie.  Spence and Horne (the solicitor firm, where Mr Allie was working at the time), also want him to pay more than £60,000 for their costs.

Ruth Hughes, a Barrister for the charity, told the Court that Mr Allie was ‘in clear and flagrant breach of his fiduciary duty’.

Our Disputed Wills and Trusts Team are specialists in financial abuse. If you have any questions regarding this area of law, please contact  Natasha Mckeever on 0207 288 4763 or natashamckeever@boltburdon.co.uk.

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