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When is an independent administrator required?

In certain circumstances, it might be appropriate for an independent administrator to be appointed to deal with the administration of the estate of a deceased person.

An independent administrator might be appointed in the following circumstances:

When there is a Will
  • When the executor named in a Will is unwilling or unable to act, or unsuitable;
  • When the executor named in a Will has pre-deceased the testator;
  • If there is a dispute between the named executors in a Will, which is causing delays to the administration;
  • If the beneficiaries in a Will are not happy with some or all of the executors.
When there is not a Will (intestacy)
  • When the deceased did not leave a Will, there might be a number of beneficiaries who might be entitled to apply for the grant of letters of administration. Therefore, it might be difficult to determine which beneficiary should apply for the grant and an independent administrator will be needed.
Why is an independent administrator required?

If the administration of an estate is delayed or impacted, for example, by inactivity or disagreements between the executors or between the executors and the beneficiaries, then in order to avoid loss to the estate, an independent administrator can be appointed.

The independent administrator will ensure the impartial administration of the estate by invoking their professionalism and specialist knowledge and experience when dealing with the administration process.

Who can be appointed as an independent administrator?

An independent administrator can be anyone who is trained and qualified to administer estates, usually an experienced probate practitioner. The independent administrator will also possess memberships with organisations such as the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and Solicitors for the Elderly. They should have qualifications such as TEP and ACTAPS and will have their details on the Law Society’s legal professional page.

Further, it is important the independent administrator does not benefit from the deceased’s estate and is not affected by any issues arising out of the estate.

It is common that the partners in a law firm are appointed to act as independent administrators. Charging for their work is not deemed to be a benefit.

How is an independent administrator appointed?

If an independent administrator needs to be appointed to administer an estate, an application to the Court will need to be made.

It is generally a good idea to consider appointing an independent administrator at the very early stages to avoid significant losses to the estate.

Before making an application to the Court, however, all the parties will need to agree in writing to the appointment of an independent administrator.

Commonly, such applications are made before a grant has been issued. Further, an executor may refuse to renounce their executorship office and an application to remove the executor might be required, or a person entitled to take out the grant might need to be passed over and an application to the Court is required.

An independent administrator can also be appointed after the grant has been issued where the appointed executor or administrator fails to deal with the administration of the estate properly or has become unsuitable to act in this role any longer. Therefore, the failing executor or administrator will need to renounce their role or be removed by a Court order.

Either way, if an independent administrator is appointed by the Court, they usually have the same powers as any other executor or administrator unless the Court limits their powers.

Michael Culver and Helen Beach, Partners in our Wealth and Estate Planning Team, have experience with this role in numerous, varied estates, including those:

  • valued in excess of £10m;
  • with a large group of beneficiaries,
  • with charitable beneficiaries including the need for double grossing tax calculations;
  • with international assets;
  • including businesses;
  • including farming assets.

If you would like to discuss any matters raised in this article, please contact one of our solicitors in the Wealth and Estate Planning team and their contact details can be found here.

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