Challenging an executor of a Will

Simona Morina

Article written by Simona Morina, Contested Probate Solicitor

The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult things for a person to navigate. If you feel the executor of your loved one’s estate is mismanaging the Deceased’s wishes, it can make the mourning process even harder. In this article, we explore the responsibilities of the executor of the Will and the actions you can take if you wish to challenge the executor; or alternatively if you need support as an executor being challenged by a beneficiary.

What is an executor?

The executor is the person named in the Will who is responsible for dealing with the Deceased’s estate. The role of an Executor comes with several responsibilities and obligations. These include:

  • Collecting the Deceased’s assets.
  • Distributing the estate as per the Will.
  • Preparing the accounts to detail assets and liabilities in the estate.
  • Paying any outstanding debts.

The Executor is obliged to distribute the estate as per the Deceased’s Will and has a duty to carry out the above tasks.

An executor can be any individual over the age of 18 who has mental capacity to act. It is possible for there to be more than one executor. Professional advisers such as accountants can also be nominated as can the solicitors who drafted the Will. Commonly, the executors named in a Will are members of the Deceased’s close family.

What if the executor is failing in their duties?

If you believe the executor is incorrectly distributing assets or failing in any of their duties, it may be possible to make a claim against them.

You can bring a claim against an executor if:

  • The executor is not acting in the best interests of the estate.
  • Has taken ownership of assets.
  • Is not meeting the relevant timescales.

A beneficiary can consider a claim against an executor on the following grounds:

  • A delay in the administration of the estate or distribution of money to the beneficiaries.
  • Disagreements regarding the sale of a property within the estate.
  • The executor failing to seek financial advice on assets such as shares.
  • Accusations of “conflict of interest” if the executor is also a beneficiary.
  • A refusal from the executor to investigate financial losses or allegations whilst the deceased was vulnerable or incapable.

Challenging an executor and removing them from their role is not a simple process, but there are situations where a Court may intervene. Should you require further advice or information on this, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be more than happy to guide you through the process.

Defending executors

Alongside investigating executors who have not acted in the best interests of an estate, we can also provide legal advice to those executors facing a claim from a beneficiary or co-executor. Our contentious probate solicitors will review your situation and seek to assist you in building an effective defence case laying out the facts and establishing behaviours where you have upheld your obligations as an executor.

For more information on challenging an executor, defending your actions as an executor or to discuss a contested probate matter further, please feel free to email me or contact the department on 020 8858 6971.