Problems with executors/trustees

Executors, are those people appointed in a Will to be responsible for dealing with the administration of the estate of the Testator (the person who has made the Will) .

When someone makes a Will they are free to select whomsoever they wish to be their Executors and these may be members of their family, trusted friends or professionals such as solicitors. The Will appoints the named individuals who, following the death of the Testator, apply to the court to “prove” the Will and the court then issue to them a Grant of Probate.

If a person dies without leaving a Will the court grants to an Administrator (that is someone with an interest in the estate), Letters of Administration. This is usually, but not always, their ‘next of kin’. Whether it be a grant of probate or letters of administration it may be referred to as as a Grant of Representation and the duties imposed on Personal representatives – whether Executors or Administrators are largely similar.

Whether Executors or Administrators, those appointed are under a legal obligation to deal with the estate in accordance with the law and upon application to the Court for a Grant of Representation they swear upon Oath that they will do so.

Since up to four Personal Representatives may be appointed it is not unusual for disputes to arise between them relating to the estate management. This can lead to an impasse resulting in the administration coming to a standstill. You may be a Personal Representative who finds himself in this position not knowing which way to turn or are you a beneficiary being denied your inheritance through the delay whilst the Executors engage in dispute.

Unfortunately, in these days of complex family arrangements, contesting a will is not uncommon.

Occasionally lay persons are appointed to be Executors under a Will and have been known to do nothing at all, frustrating the beneficiaries named in the Will and once again being denied their inheritance. In this case the Executor will need to be “passed over” allowing those who do have an interest to continue the administration.

Unfortunately, not all Personal Representatives for Trustees are scrupulously honest and they may manipulate estate or trust assets to their own advantage, once gain denying rightful beneficiaries their proper entitlement.

Whatever the circumstance the skills and expertise of our combined Private Client and Litigation teams will work to bring about an early resolution of your dispute to challenge a will in the most cost effective manner.

However, in some instances applications to Court to resolve disputes are essential and we can assist in the following areas,
• Applications under s116 The Supreme Court Act 1981 to pass over those entitled to take out a grant of representation.
• Applications under s50 Administration of Justice Act 1985 to remove existing Personal Representatives.
• Applications to require Executors to undertake certain task.
• Applications in the case of negligent or fraudulent personal representatives.