Executor Disputes

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.

How to dispute an executor?

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 the 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 the 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 the 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 affected will need to be added to the application.

How We Can Help

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.

Contact Us

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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 and Head of the Contentious Trust and Probate Team

Alice Vale

Alice Vale

Alice is a Senior Solicitor in our Contentious Trust and Probate Team

Eleanor Clarke

Eleanor Clarke

Eleanor is a Solicitor in our Contentious Trust and Probate Team

Stephanie Ewan

Stephanie Ewan

Stephanie is a Solicitor in our Contentious Trust and Probate Team

Tom Evans

Tom Evans

Tom is a Solicitor in our Contentious Trust and Probate team

Fran Duffy

Fran Duffy

Fran is a Trainee Solicitor in our Contentious Trust & Probate department.