Disputes with Trustees and Executors

Disputes with Trustees and Executors

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Disputes with Trustees and Executors Experts

Executors and trustees play crucial roles in the probate process, ensuring that the wishes of the deceased are carried out and that assets are handled responsibly.

Disputes with Trustees and Executors Experts

Executors and trustees play crucial roles in the probate process, ensuring that the wishes of the deceased are carried out and that assets are handled responsibly. In this process, disagreements and issues can come about for various reasons.

Solicitors bring legal expertise, conflict resolution skills, and a commitment to upholding legal standards, ensuring that trustee and executor disputes are managed in a way that protects assets, preserves relationships, and complies with legal requirements.

Who are executors?

Executors are individuals chosen by someone who makes a Will to oversee the administration of their estate when they pass away. Their key duties involve managing financial affairs, settling debts and taxes, and ultimately distributing remaining assets to beneficiaries. To perform these tasks, executors need to obtain a grant of probate, giving them legal authority over the estate. Throughout this process, executors are obligated to act in the best interests of beneficiaries, ensuring fair and efficient estate management.

Who are trustees?

Trustees step in when a Will establishes a trust. Trusts are legal arrangements that allow assets to be managed by trustees for the benefit of specific beneficiaries. This often occurs when beneficiaries, such as minors or those lacking mental capacity, are unable to handle their inheritance immediately. 

Trustees bear the responsibility of administering and distributing trust assets according to the trust's provisions, always prioritising the welfare of the beneficiaries. This role requires a deep understanding of trust law and a long-term commitment to managing trust assets. Trustees must act impartially, balancing the needs of different beneficiaries and avoiding conflicts of interest throughout their duties, which may extend over several years.

When can disputes happen with executors or trustees?

Executor and trustee disputes can arise during the administration of an estate or trust when parties involved express dissatisfaction with the way executors or trustees are managing the affairs. The complexities and time involved in these processes can contribute to conflicts that may need resolution before the estate or trust can be distributed.

Executor disputes may emerge when disagreements arise among executors, causing potential delays in the administration of the estate. Similarly, trustee disputes can occur when there are disagreements among trustees or if beneficiaries are unhappy with the management of the trust. These disputes can complicate and prolong the distribution of assets.

Concerned beneficiaries, worried about the competency or conduct of an executor or trustee, have the option to address their concerns directly with the executor or trustee. They can also request access to estate or trust accounts to better understand the handling of affairs. While this approach may resolve some concerns, it can also bring to light issues of incompetence or misconduct on the part of the executor or trustee.

When can executors and trustees breach their duties?

Trustees and executors, entrusted with the important responsibilities of managing estates and trusts, may find themselves facing allegations of breaches when their actions deviate from the prescribed duties. Breaches in the duties of trustees and executors can take various forms, potentially leading to legal actions to address these issues.

One common breach involves the distribution of assets to the wrong person, a situation that can arise from errors in judgment or misunderstandings. Another breach occurs when trustees or executors fail to align their behaviour with the terms of the trust or Will potentially causing disputes among beneficiaries.

The inability to administer an estate in accordance with the provisions of a Will or intestacy rules is another potential breach, introducing complications and legal challenges. Selling a property for less than its true value is another instance that may be considered a breach, as it may result in financial losses for the estate or trust.

Incorrect trust administration, such as mishandling funds or assets, can lead to disputes and legal actions. Breakdowns in relationships between estate representatives or trustees may also contribute to breaches, affecting the smooth execution of their duties.

In addition, actions that result in harm or casualties to an estate or trust, such as neglect or mismanagement, are serious breaches. Concealment of assets or dishonesty in handling financial matters is another form of breach that can lead to legal consequences. 

How do you resolve disputes with executors or trustees?

In cases where serious misconduct is evident, such as failure to maintain accounting records or acting in personal interests rather than in the best interests of the estate or trust and its beneficiaries, it may become necessary to consider replacing or removing the executor or trustee. However, such actions typically require court intervention. Resolving disputes is essential for ensuring a fair and timely distribution of assets and maintaining the integrity of the estate or trust administration process.

How can GloverPriest help?

Overall, breaches in the duties of trustees and executors cover a range of actions, from errors in distribution to dishonest conduct, and addressing these breaches is crucial to maintaining the integrity of estate and trust administration.

Effectively resolving disputes is crucial to guarantee a fair and prompt distribution of assets, preserving the integrity of the estate or trust administration process. This is why we play an important part in handling trustee and executor disputes because these legal matters involve sensitive and complex issues.

Contact our trustee and executor dispute solicitors

At GloverPriest, we provide friendly and transparent advice. If you would like further advice on trustee and executor dispute matters, please don’t hesitate to speak to one of our expert solicitors today. Complete our enquiry form.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the legal obligations of an executor?

The role, an executor involves several key duties:

1. Valuation of the estate: The executor is required to assess the value of the deceased person's estate and report this information to HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs).

2. Application for Grant of Probate: The executor is responsible for applying for the grant of probate, a legal document that grants them the authority to administer the estate. This document is crucial for carrying out various tasks related to the estate.

3. Asset collection: The executor must collect the value of all assets within the estate. This could involve selling assets, such as a house, to facilitate the distribution of the inheritance among the beneficiaries.

4. Debt settlement: Any outstanding debts and liabilities of the deceased must be paid by the executor. This includes ensuring that all financial obligations are settled before the estate is distributed.

5. Estate distribution: The executor's primary duty is to distribute the estate among the beneficiaries as stipulated by the deceased person's Will. This involves ensuring that each beneficiary receives their rightful share.


Is it a good idea to have a solicitor as executor of a Will?

Choosing a solicitor as your executor is a decision that comes with both advantages and considerations. Many individuals opt for a solicitor or even a bank to serve as one of their executors due to the experience and expertise these professionals bring to the table, particularly in navigating legal, tax, and property matters. Familiarity with intricate legal processes can be beneficial in ensuring the smooth and proper administration of your estate.

However, it's essential to weigh the potential downsides, especially the increased cost associated with professional executors. The fees for solicitors acting as executors can be comparatively higher than if you choose individuals without professional backgrounds. 

Professional executors typically charge in one of two ways, by billing for their time after all estate matters are settled or by taking a percentage of the total value of your estate, a provision that is usually specified in your Will.


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