Disputed Wills and Trusts
Executor and Administrator Disputes
The job of an Executor or Administrator (‘Personal Representative’) 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.
Personal Representatives owe fiduciary duties to the 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 sorts 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.
- Not giving the property to the beneficiaries quickly enough.
- Failing to insure property which gets damaged.
- 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 you are a beneficiary of an estate and 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 to you.
We have a team of dedicated, experienced solicitors who specialise in handling disputes about Wills, including claims against executors or trustees. We could help you if:
- You are an executor or trustee who is worried that they might be sued (in which case we can guide you through the process and help you defend yourself against the claim), or
- You feel you have lost out because an executor or trustee has not acted properly.
We are always happy to talk on an initial no obligation and informal basis so please email or call one of the team.