Probate and Will, Trust & Estate Disputes

Attorneys beware – good intentions need not be enough!

Our client and her son were appointed attorneys for the financial and property affairs of her husband (the Deceased). As attorneys, our clients were trusted to make financial decisions on behalf of the Deceased, ensuring that his income and capital were sufficient to meet both his daily and long term needs. A large portion of this was the Deceased’s care home fees. Given the limited cash reserves available, our clients took steps to free up some of the capital in the estate so that they could continue to meet the rising care home fees. Our clients managed the estate for over 5 years before the Deceased passed away.

Following the Deceased’s death, challenge was brought by the two children of his first marriage (in their capacity as Personal Representatives) alleging mismanagement of funds and breach of duty as attorneys. In particular, they took issue with some of the decisions taken by the attorneys in sale of properties. Unfortunately, our clients had failed to properly ring-fence estate monies and, without professional attorney accounts, this made their actions open to criticism.

We were able to defend the allegations raised by the children of the Deceased by constructing targeted attorney accounts, showing that there was an annual income deficit which would leave the Deceased vulnerable to losing his access to care. Through this we could prove that that the attorney’s actions were reasonable and necessary in the circumstances and did not constitute a breach. Through producing the accounts, we were also able to identify the portions of estate income which needed to be accounted back to the estate, avoiding the need for costly court proceedings.

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