Removal of executors and trustees
Most commonly, charities are nominated as the residuary beneficiary in Wills. As a result, they might find themselves dealing with uncooperative Executors or Administrators (‘Personal Representatives’), who do not administer the estate in the best interests of the charities.
The job of a Personal Representatives is to ensure the deceased’s estate is administered correctly and the beneficiaries receive their share of the estate promptly.
The Personal Representative will manage the estate and undertake tasks such as closing bank accounts, valuing or selling properties, and arranging the deceased’s funeral. The Personal Representative uses any available cash in the estate to pay bills and debts and then divides what is left between the beneficiaries of the Will.
If something is left to a person who cannot inherit immediately (e.g. because that person is a child or vulnerable adult), someone must be named as their trustee, to take care of that gift until it can go to the intended person. The trustee’s main role is to ensure that the assets are protected.
Personal Representatives can be professionals (e.g. a firm of solicitors) but they are often family members or friends. They can also be beneficiaries, including charities if nominated as beneficiaries in the deceased’s Will.
Personal Representatives owe fiduciary duties to the beneficiaries, including charity beneficiaries, to ensure the estate is administered promptly, the maximum sale price for assets is achieved and all debts and liabilities are paid; however, they can and do make mistakes.
The sort of issues that can arise include:
- Selling property for less than it is worth because of poor valuations.
- Not selling property quickly enough, causing it to be sold for less than it could have been worth.
- Failing to insure property.
- Paying money to the wrong people.
Occasionally, a family member or friend acting as a Personal Representative might act in their own interests, in breach of their duties.
What we can do for you?
If your charity is a beneficiary of an estate and you are unhappy with the way a Personal Representative is handling matters and/or there is evidence that they have made a mistake or deliberately acted with the result that the estate has lost value, you may be able to apply to the court to have them removed from their role and hold them personally liable for any loss.
Maladministration of an estate can significantly impact on the amount of the legacy your charity receives. We can assist if your charity has lost out because a Personal Representative has not acted properly, by making applications to court for their removal and to recoup any losses to the estate.
We are always happy to talk on an initial no obligation and informal basis so please email or call one of the team.