What is an Executor?
An executor is a person named in a will to serve as the administrator of the estate (ie the assets and property left behind by the person who made the will, who is known as the testator).
The role of the executor is to ensure that all of the debts owed by the testator incurred before their death are settled in full, and that the estate is correctly distributed among the beneficiaries (ie the people or organisations who have been left part of the estate under the will).
Click here to read more about the duties of an executor.
Concerned about a possible executor dispute? Call our specialist solicitors on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 for FREE initial phone advice – with no strings attached.
Executor Disputes – How Do They Crop Up?
Unfortunately, executor disputes are very common and widely seen by some as little more than a deeply regrettable and unfortunate, but ultimately, inevitable risk.
Although the specific instances whereby an executor dispute can arise is fairly broad; the most common reason behind them all is that a beneficiary feels, or has reasonable grounds to suspect, that the executor is not properly following the wishes and instructions of the testator.
Some beneficiaries also feel especially upset where there is a delay in the release of their share of the estate to them.
Executor Disputes – How we can help you
Contested probate claims, including executor disputes, are steadily getting more common. And what’s more they involve a complicated area of law – often with considerable sums of money at stake.
And executor disputes are generally more commonly found where executors have decided to deal with probate themselves.
Click here to read more about the risks of DIY probate.
That’s why, if you’re thinking of getting involved in an executor dispute of some kind, you need to make sure that your solicitor has some solid specialist experience in this area – even if that means not instructing your usual local solicitor but travelling a bit further to see them – or perhaps instructing the solicitor largely using phone and email.
Our experienced team has plenty of solid experience of executor and trustee disputes.
We regularly run contested will and inheritance claims, including executor and trustee disputes, not just locally throughout Wiltshire, Hampshire, Somerset and Dorset but nationwide, from our four offices in Salisbury, Andover, Fordingbridge and Amesbury.
Can I Force An Executor to Step Down?
Any beneficiary to a will who is worried that the executor is not performing his duties properly can take action.
The executor’s duties are clearly set out in the “Executor’s Oath” [as contained in Section 25 of the 1925 Administration of Estates Act] as follows:
a) collection and administration of the deceased’s estate;
b) to exhibit on Oath a full inventory of the Estate and if requested by the court, to provide a full account of the estate administration of the Estate to the Court;
c) delivery of Grant of Probate or administration to the High Court, if requested
In that kind of situation the beneficiaries should first write to the executor, requesting an explanation of their behaviour. If the reply is not satisfactory, the next step is to try and resolve the dispute by negotiation – and to get the executor to step down voluntarily. However if that fails or worse still you don’t get an answer at all, then the last resort is for the court for the removal or replacement.
Our experienced contested probate solicitors can help you in trying to remove an executor.
What can I do if the executor is also a solicitor, bank or building society?
If the executor you are having problems with is a solicitor, and simply refuses to give up that role, then we can approach the senior partner of the firm involved or alternatively raise the issue with the Solicitor Regulation Authority.
We can also help if the unresponsive or unsatisfactory executor turns out to be either a bank and building society.
It’s also worth noting that banks and building societies have a reputation for being very expensive in their role as executors – usually charging significantly more than specialist probate solicitors. They do seem to charge for just about everything – most banks for example, seem to make an annual charge for the storage of your will with them (which we happily do free of charge, whether not we actually drafted your will originally).
The real damage caused by executor disputes?
If you’re a beneficiary of a loved one’s estate and are thinking of making some form of claims against the executors, please do think twice, particularly if the executor is a close friend or family member, as is often the case.
Why? Our team has run numerous contested probate, inheritance claim and executor dispute cases over the years. We understand that these claims can be complicated, acrimonious and can drag on for years. And in our experience, far too often the most significant outcomes are that not only is a large part of the estate spent on legal fees, but often worse still, there is a real and lasting damage caused to close friendships and family relationships.
Executor disputes – the need to act quickly
Probate can be a surprisingly slow process sometimes. Disputes between executors can cause significant delay and can stall the administration of an estate.
Beneficiaries can be seriously affected – not being paid what they are due promptly. These disputes can also cause enormous stress to all those involved – especially the executors themselves.
That’s why it’s important to appoint specialist solicitor who really understands executor disputes – and to try to resolve any disagreement as soon as possible.