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Executor or Trustee Disputes
Whether a party is appointed as executor of a will, takes on the responsibility of becoming a personal representative where there is no will, or is appointed as the trustee of a trust, they are accountable to the beneficiaries of the estate or trust for the actions that they take. They have what is known as a ‘duty of care’ to the beneficiaries. This duty is not just a financial duty but extends to taking proper professional advice in certain circumstances.
JMW provides expert legal advice and representation to individuals who are concerned that an executor or trustee has breached their duty. Dispute of this kind can be difficult, lengthy and complex, and can come at the worst of times, and so it is important to have an experienced, knowledgeable legal team in your corner.
Examples of Breaches of Duty
If a party breaches their duty of care then there is a possible action which can be brought against them. Examples of where we can assist include:
- Failure to administer an estate in accordance with terms of a will or intestacy rules
- Failure to administer a trust correctly
- Giving assets to the wrong person
- Causing a loss to an estate or trust
- Failure to act in accordance with a letter of wishes for a will or a trust
- Breakdown in relationship between representatives of estate or trustees
- Concealing of assets and dishonesty
- Selling property at undervalue
- Wasting of assets
We also assist with matters where a person who is not a representative of an estate or a trustee of an estate has interfered in the estate or has misrepresented their entitlement to assets to a third party, such as a bank or building society.
Where a beneficiary is concerned about how an executor, personal representative or trustee will behave, we can act on behalf of that beneficiary to protect their interest in the estate or trust and ensure that that the administration of the estate or trust is carried out correctly.
Possible remedies include bringing personal actions for recovery of funds to the estate or trust against executors, personal representatives or trustees, or/and to remove an executor or trustee from that role. We are experienced in both bringing and defending such actions.
What should I do? Have I made a mistake?
Sometimes administering an estate or managing a trust can be overwhelming for the parties appointed. Wills and trusts can be complicated to understand and may contain confusing or ambiguous terms which leave you unsure as to how to act.
If you are unsure as to the action you need to take in administering an estate or managing a trust but have yet to take action please contact our Wills, Trusts and Estate planning team who will be able to provide you with professional advice on how to comply with your obligations and protect yourself against liability.
Alternatively, if you are acting as executor, administrator or trustee and have taken action you believe may have been incorrect, we can provide advice on whether you have made an error and, if so, how to act to minimise the impact of that error and your liability to any beneficiaries.
What duties does an executor or trustee have?
Executors and trustees have a duty to act in the best interests of all of the beneficiaries of the will and/or trust. They are required to exercise such skill and care as is reasonable in the circumstances to carry out their duties effectively.
Where certain elements of their role fall outside of their expertise this may extend to a duty to take advice from such an expert, e.g. appropriate investment of assets, preparing trust tax returns or taking legal advice on a particular issue.
Can I remove an executor or trustee?
It is possible to remove an executor or trustee. In a trust, sometimes such a power is given to a specified person. Otherwise it is possible in certain circumstances, such as where an executor or trustee is not carrying out their duties effectively or wishes to retire from their role, to make an application to the court to remove an executor or trustee.
Why Choose JMW?
Our team prides itself on its knowledge and expertise in handling executor and trustee disputes in an experienced and skilled manner. We are renowned for our professionalism and ability to get the right results.
We will provide support and guidance throughout the duration of your dispute, enabling you to build as strong an argument as possible to help you secure the desired outcome.