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Disputes Over The Role Of Executors And Trustees

What Do Executors And Trustees Do?

When a person makes a Will, they will name someone to act as an executor. If they die without a Will this person is known as the administrator. In legal claims they are known as the personal representatives of the estate (“PR”)

The PR will deal with the estate when the person dies and take care of issues such as closing bank accounts, valuing or selling a house, and arranging the funeral. The executor uses the money from the estate to pay any bills and debts and then divides what is left between the people who are due to inherit under the Will.

If something is left to a person who cannot inherit immediately (e.g. because that person is a child and cannot inherit until they reach 18 at the earliest), someone else must be named as their trustee, to take care of that gift until it can go to the intended person. Trustees can have other jobs, but their main role is to make sure that the assets are looked after properly.

PRs can be a firm of solicitors but they are often family members or friends. They can also be beneficiaries.

Claims Against Executors Or Trustees When Things Go Wrong

Personal representatives can make mistakes. Solicitors acting as PRs should not make the mistakes that a friend or relative might, but sometimes they can get it wrong. The sorts of issues that can arise include:

  • Selling property for less than it is worth because of poor valuations
  • Not selling property quickly enough, causing it to be sold for less than it could have been worth
  • Not giving the property to the intended person quickly enough
  • Failing to insure property which gets damaged
  • Paying the money to the wrong people

Occasionally, a family member or friend acting as an executor or trustee can betray the trust of the deceased and act in their own interests.

If a PR has made a mistake or deliberately acted with the result that the estate loses value, you may be able to take legal action.

Being a PR is a big responsibility, in part because they can be held personally liable for the losses of the estate. That means that if someone does not get what they were entitled to from the estate, they can ask a court to make the executor or trustee to pay them back with their own money.

How Irwin Mitchell Can Help

We could help you if:

  • You are an executor or trustee who is worried that they might be sued, or
  • You feel you have lost out because an executor or trustee has not acted properly

Our helpline is available 24/7 so you can always speak to someone about your case.

We’re a national law firm with offices across the country, so we can help you wherever you are.

We have a team of dedicated, experienced solicitors who specialise in handling disputes about Wills, including claims against executors or trustees.

Similarly, if you are a PR and someone is making a claim against you, we can guide you through the process and help you defend yourself against the claim.

Where possible we keep cases out of court by using mediators. This keeps costs down for you and also means most disputes are settled in 6-9 months.

Funding Your Case

How your case will be funded depends on your circumstances. In certain cases we try to offer a no win, no fee agreement, which means there’s no cost to you if your claim is unsuccessful*. Other options for funding your case include:

  • Discounted Fee Agreements
  • Legal Expenses insurance (often included with home insurance policies)

Call Us Today For An Initial Discussion With No Obligation

If you contact us, we will listen to your side of the story and give you some initial advice about your options. For an initial discussion, with no obligation, please call us on 0345 604 4895 or contact us online.

* Subject to entering into a ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement in conjunction with our Allianz Support4Disputes insurance policy and complying with your responsibilities under its terms.