High Court figures show claims for Mishandling of a Will triple
1st August, 2014
Figures from the High Court show that 368 claims were lodged last year for mishandling deceased’s estates up from 107 claims in the previous 12 months.
The claims ranged from theft of assets by the executors appointed to administer the estate to distributing the estate to favour certain beneficiaries over others.
One of the benefits of appointing a professional such as a solicitor as executor is that they ought to be impartial and will see that the terms of the deceased’s will are upheld. Where a family member is appointed there may be a temptation to seek to act in a way that benefits them or there may be family dynamics that give rise to a temptation not to treat all of the beneficiaries impartially.
The modern family structure, which often involves unmarried partners and step children, brings its own unique issues to estate administration, particularly where there are substantial assets involved. Good family relations cannot always be guaranteed following a death and there can often be feelings of entitlement that do not necessarily reflect the deceased‘s final wishes as set out in their will. This can lead to assets being hidden or secretly given away, particularly in the case of personal items such as jewellery, which can be hard to recover once they have been erroneously distributed.
In other cases, a squeeze on disposable income combined with increases in the cost of living has meant that for some executors the temptation to make a little extra from a deceased’s estate is simply too great to resist. Unless beneficiaries have access to information about the deceased’s assets it can be difficult to prove that the executor has not acted honestly and this is when the court can become involved.
The important message for those making wills is to think carefully about who they are appointing as their executors. Anyone taking on the role should be trustworthy, financially secure and not in conflict with any of the proposed beneficiaries. If such a person cannot be found then the appointment of a professional executor can, in some cases, be the best solution.
Where beneficiaries do have concerns about the way in which an estate is being administered it is important that they seek legal advice as soon as possible. The court can make orders to protect assets if appropriate and can replace the acting executor if legitimate concerns as to their actions are raised.
For more information on making a will or appointing an executor please contact James Wallace on 01244 405594 or email [email protected].
You might also be interested in...
22nd May, 2018
With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in May, businesses across Shropshire have been flocking to hear more about the new laws Paul Bennett, a partner at law firm Aaron & Partners LLP, has been delivering seminars in partnership with the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce An employment solicitor from Shrewsbury is urging businesses across the... Read More »
15th May, 2018
Experienced HR leader joins Aaron & Partners LLP Law firm with offices in Chester and Shrewsbury appoints Kate Robertson to drive HR strategy for more than 120 staff and to support the company’s growth Chester law firm Aaron & Partners LLP has strengthened its senior leadership team with the appointment of an experienced human resources manager. Kate Robertson... Read More »
24th April, 2018
Jan Chillery, Insolvency Partner at Aaron & Partners LLP, shares her experience and the reasons why we should be cautious before paying so-called “bailiffs” over the phone or online without vetting them first. My neighbour has told me that recently he had a CCJ (County Court Judgment) against him. A day or so later, he received a phone call... Read More »