Probate and Will, Trust & Estate Disputes

Publish date

6 July 2022

What can you do if you feel the executor of a loved one’s or family member’s estate is acting improperly?

Nasima Ansary, a Senior Associate in the will, trust & estate disputes team at Thomson Snell & Passmore answers common questions on this topic for The Times of Tunbridge Wells.

The executor has not taken any steps to administer the estate, what can I do?

If the executor has not taken action within a reasonable period of time (normally one year) then you can issue a citation (a notice sealed by the Probate Registry) to the executor to accept or refuse to take out a Grant of Probate. If the executor declines, or does not respond to the citation then you can ask the Probate Registry for permission to obtain a Grant yourself.

What if the executor has taken some action in respect of the winding up but not applied for a Grant of Probate?

If the executor has taken some action but not obtained a Grant of Probate, this is known as intermeddling.  If the executor has intermeddled, then a citation can be issued to the executor to apply to obtain a Grant of Probate.  If the executor does not respond to the citation, then you can ask the court for permission to obtain a Grant yourself.

I am not happy with the progress that the executor has been making and do not consider that he or she is acting in the best interests of the beneficiaries.

The first step is to communicate your concerns to the executor and ask them to address these. There may be an explanation for the delay, or for the actions or inaction of the executor.

I have discussed my concerns with the executor and cannot reach a resolution.  I consider that the executor should be removed. How can I do this?

If a Grant of Probate has not been obtained by the executor, then you can apply to the Probate Registry to “pass over” the executor and to appoint another person as administrator pursuant to section 116 of the Senior Courts Act 1981. The Probate Registry will take into account any “special circumstances” which make it necessary or expedient to appoint an administrator in replacement of the executor. Special circumstances could extend to any circumstances which the Probate Registry thinks are relevant.

If an executor has obtained a Grant of Probate then an application can be made to the High Court pursuant to section 50 Administration of Justice Act 1985 for the removal of the executor and the appointment of a personal representative to act in his place.

This can be a lay or professional personal representative. The court will take into account whether the administration of the estate is being carried out properly and whether it is in the best interests of the beneficiaries to replace one or more of the executors.

If you would like any further information on this topic then please get in touch

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