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Executor and Beneficiary Disputes

Executor and Beneficiary Disputes

Problems can arise during the process of administering an estate due to disputes arising between the beneficiaries, between the executors or between the executors and beneficiaries. This can result in the administration of the estate being bought to a standstill and/ or costs being incurred which would otherwise have been avoided.

If a dispute arises, it is important to seek advice as soon as possible.

Seeking advice early will increase the chances of the dispute being resolved promptly and efficiently and with the least escalation and detriment to the estate.


An executor is in a difficult position  where disputes between beneficiaries arise and professional advice should be sought to ensure that the executor takes the correct steps to protect the estate assets and their own position.

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Whatever the nature of the dispute, our team can advise and guide you, whether you are an executor or a beneficiary

Disputes can arise for a huge number of reasons but the most common areas of dispute are;
  • Where an executor fails to take any or any appropriate steps to administer the estate in accordance with the will or who refuse to act at all.
  • Where an executor is not acting competently or, worse still,  acting dishonestly.
  • Where an executor is not being transparent or is failing to keep the beneficiaries advised.
  • Where the will is unclear so that the correct meaning of the will or the intentions of the testator are difficult to understand or open to different interpretation. For more information on this Click Here
  • Where the executor incurs costs or makes charges that the beneficiary does not agree with.
  • Where a beneficiary does not believe that a particular executor should act at all – perhaps because the beneficiary does not think that they will be impartial or  because a beneficiary does not believe that the executor has the competence or capacity to do so.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What rights do I have as a beneficiary?

    This depends upon whether you are a beneficiary of a specific legacy (a specific gift of money, property or a particular item) or whether you are the residuary beneficiary.   However, in a nutshell, a beneficiary has an enforceable right to the estate being correctly administered under the terms of the will or intestacy.    If the estate is not being correctly administered, you can take action against the executors to ensure that it is.  If estate assets suffer a loss due to negligent or dishonest conduct by the beneficiary the executor can be held personally liable for those losses.   A beneficiary also has a right to receive certain information from the executor to enable him to assess whether the estate is being correctly administered.  This depends upon what type of beneficiary you are.   

  • What responsibilities do I have as executor?

    You are in an important role which carries with it responsibilities and the potential for personal liability.  For this reason, if there are questions about the will or disputes arising between the beneficiaries or between you and the beneficiaries you should seek professional advice as soon as possible.   For a list of your responsibilities a executor, please visit our estate administration page 

  • What can I do if the executor is not correctly administering the estate?

    If you are the beneficiary of a will and the executor does not appear to be doing his job – in other words, you do not think that the executor is taking the right steps (or any steps) to obtain the grant of representation and administer the estate there are steps that you can take.  See our FAQ above: what are my rights as a beneficiary?  Sometimes, it might be simply that the executor is not being transparent about what they are doing when in fact they are taking the right steps.   

  • I am named as executor but I do not want to act, can I refuse?

    You can refuse to act if you do not think that it is appropriate to do so by signing a deed of renunciation. 

  • What can I do to stop someone applying for a grant of representation?

    If you are a beneficiary of an estate and you are worried about the potential conduct of an executor who has been appointed under a will or about the person who wants to apply to administer an estate where there is no will, there is a process that you can follow to prevent that person from taking out a grant of representation.  This starts with lodging a caveat at the probate registry (court).   If you take this step, the intended executor can respond (by lodging what is called a ‘warning’) and if they do so, you must respond with good reason why they should not apply.   A caveat only lasts 6 months.  It is often the first step taken where there is a will dispute and so if you are the executor of a will where a caveat has been lodged, you should take advice as soon as possible.

  • Maitland Walker LLP have dealt with every single one of my enquiries with professionalism and integrity.....I would not hesitate to use their services again should the need arise
  • Anna was very clear with advice and prompt with actions
  • Anna was knowledgeable confident and courteous throughout

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