There are instances where an executor of an estate doesn’t administer the estate or delays the process. Being in such a position can cause friction especially if the executor and beneficiaries are related.
Definitions, just in case you didn’t know.
Executor – An executor is an individual responsible for managing the affairs of a deceased person’s estate. This involves collecting their assets, paying off debts and distributing the estate as per the wishes of the deceased.
Beneficiaries – Individuals who receives something in a Will left by the deceased.
What can be done if the executor is not completing their work?
There is a time period of six months, after the death of the testator, before which the executor is not bound to distribute the estate, apart from paying privileged debts.
It is common for probate matters to take a while. Simple cases may take a few months, while complicated or large estates or disputed wills can take a year or more to complete. You should factor in those times before assuming the executor is delaying the process.
If there is good reason to believe there is an attempt to delay or commit fraud, any residuary beneficiary of the estate can request a copy of the estate accounts. This can clarify the executors position.
What if there is a purposeful delay or no response from the executor?
If that is indeed the case, the beneficiaries can follow the steps below.
- Formally ask the executor to complete the administration of the estate directly or through an intermediary, warning them of your intention to pursue the case against them through legal means.
- If the executor doesn’t respond, a solicitor can be used to write to them outlining the responsibilities they have as an administrator and what legal steps will be taken against them for not completing the process. At this point, we can give them a deadline to respond.
- If there is no positive response, you can initiate the process of getting them removed as an administrator of the estate through court.
Removing an executor from their role
To get an executor removed from their role, the beneficiaries have to collect evidence of the executor’s unsuitability. Generally, the courts only remove an executor for the reasons listed below.
- The executor has a criminal conviction.
- The executor is incapable, either physically or mentally which prevents them from performing their duties.
- The executor is unsuitable because of a possible conflict of interest or serious misconduct.
What if there are two executors and one of them is hindering the process?
They can be relieved of their duties following the rules above. It will be the responsibility of one of the executors to ensure that the financial affairs of a deceased person(s) are satisfactorily wound up and their estate distributed according to the law.
If you are facing such an issue with an executor, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 790 7311. We can discuss your legal options and how we can help.