Dealing with Difficult Executors
Executors or Administrators must manage the deceased’s Estate in accordance with the Will, or in line with the Rules of Intestacy. This means investigating and collecting in all of the deceased’s assets, paying any due debts and/or taxes, maintaining Estate accounts and then distributing the Estate in accordance with the Will or Rules of Intestacy.
However, many issues can arise between Executors or Administrators and the beneficiaries over the handling of the Estate. This can range from simply being slow to deal with matters to more serious, and in some cases, fraudulent activity.
For free initial legal advice get in touch with our Contentious Probate Solicitors.
How Long Does it Take to Distribute an Estate?
The first thing to note is that it’s not unusual for the administration of some Estates to take a significant amount of time if there are many different assets, bank accounts or shares etc, that need to be investigated and collected in.
There’s also a time limit in which people can make claims against an Estate if, for example, the Will or intestacy doesn’t make adequate provision for them. That period is 6 months from the date of Probate and it’s therefore not unusual for the Executors or Administrators to wait until at least this time limit has passed before making any distribution.
Actually applying for and obtaining Probate may also be delayed if there are complex issues to deal with, or if someone has entered a caveat to contest the Will.
There’s no set time limit or hard and fast rules as to how long the distribution of an Estate should take, so each matter will depend on its own particular facts.
In addition, once an Executor or Administrator has started to deal with an Estate, the Courts may be slow to remove them unless there are clear issues of dishonesty or disputes arise that cause a conflict between the Executor’s or Administrator’s duties and their personal position.
Other Executor disputes that can arise include:
- Failing to deal promptly with the administration of the Estate, or failing to deal at all
- Ignoring the provisions of the Will or Rules on Intestacy
- Dealing negligently with assets causing loss to the Estate, or selling or buying Estate assets for less than they are actually worth
- Failing to provide information to the beneficiaries about the administration and steps taken in relation to the Estate
- Charging excessive fees or other expenses
- Stealing or misusing assets.
For more information see Executor Disputes.
There are a variety of Court applications that can be made, and depending on the situation or seriousness, the Court has power to intervene in most Executor or Administrator disputes. For instance, the Court can remove Executors or Administrators, require them to provide Estate accounts and hear claims made against them for breach of their duties.
It may also be possible to deal with these disputes, in some cases, without the need for Court action by negotiation or meditation, although this depends on the nature of the dispute.
For more information on what we can do to resolve issues with Executors and Administrators, get in touch with our Contentious Probate Solicitors.
For free legal advice call our Contentious Probate Lawyers
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