Executors, trustees and personal representatives may be removed and replaced if they act improperly.

Executors, trustees and personal representatives are responsible for collecting in the assets, settling liabilities and distributing assets to the correct beneficiaries.

They are given extensive powers in order to do this and they have a duty of care towards the beneficiaries. If executors or trustees breach that duty intentionally or by mistake then they can be removed and replaced and may be held personally liable for any loss suffered.

There is action that can  be taken and there are a number of possible claims against executors that can be made. Further there are way executors can protect themselves from potential claims being brought against them.

Possible action against Executors

If an executor has wasted the assets of an estate (known as devastavit), or has made an unauthorised profit then a claim may be brought.

There may also be claims brought in negligence and breach of contract by third parties. There are a number of examples of how executors act improperly, including:

  • Unnecessary delay in dealing with the estate
  • Failure to properly administer the estate
  • Selling property for less than it is worth
  • Paying money to the wrong person
  • Dishonesty, including misappropriation of money and belongings.

An application may be made to court to have the executor removed, and you may also be able to bring a claim against the executor personally for losses suffered as a result of their conduct.

Unfortunately it is a common occurrence that executors do not act properly, and we are frequently instructed to bring claims against executors.

We also act for executors in defence of claims being brought against them.

How can an executor protect themselves from potential claims?

There are ways an executor or trustee can protect themselves against claims.

This includes by applying to court for the court to direct how they should act, or to sanction previous actions.

This is known as a Beddoe application. A Beddoe application can be useful to protect the executor or trustee from future liability.

An executor or trustee may also seek an indemnity from a beneficiary if the executor brings a claim on behalf of an estate, or on behalf of a beneficiary.

If the terms of a will are unclear, then an executor can apply to court for “construction”.

The court will then determine how the will ought to be interpreted, and the executor can then distribute the estate in accordance with the court’s direction.

Usually all parties to the will, and all parties that may be effected will need to be added to the application.

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Our Approach

The team at Myerson often advise beneficiaries and other interested parties on removing, replacing or claiming against executors. The team also advises executors and trustees on defending these claims, and on advising executors on how to best protect their position. The team advises executors and trustees on their rights and obligations.

We frequently act for local, national and international clients.

Our dedicated Wills and Probate team can also advise on dealing with a trust and bringing a trust to an end.

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Our Promise - Our Core Values

Our Promise

The Myerson Promise - Our Partners, team of lawyers and support staff commit to giving our clients more.

To always give you clear, jargon-free advice.
To be completely transparent about our fees from the outset.
Progress every matter in an efficient and timely matter.

Our Core Values

Our core values are at the centre of everything we do.

We are always professional but ensure that we are friendly and approachable.
We are determined and enthusiastic about supporting our clients and our people.
We willingly take responsibility and can be relied on to be commercial, effective and efficient.

Meet Our Specialists

Home-grown or recruited from national, regional or City firms. Our specialists are experts in their fields and respected by their peers.

Helen Thompson

Helen Thompson

Helen is a Partner in our Dispute Resolution department and leads the Contentious Probate team

John Lambe

John Lambe

John is a Senior Solicitor in our Probate Litigation department

Stephanie Ewan

Stephanie Ewan

Stephanie is a Solicitor in our Commercial Litigation department and specialises in Probate Litigation

Tom Evans

Tom Evans

Tom is a Trainee Solicitor in our Probate Litigation department


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