Executor / Trustee Disputes – by Peter Richards, Inheritance Disputes Expert and WBW Solicitors

Executors and trustees have extensive duties and responsibilities.  Their primary duty is to look after the beneficiaries’ best interests, so beneficiaries have a variety of rights.

Generally, beneficiaries approach WBW Solicitors Contentious Probate Team with concerns over lengthy delays, lack of information and errors made by the executor or trustee.  Sometimes, beneficiaries are concerned that the executor is not investigating suspicious transactions which took place during the person’s life or that the executors have wrongly taken money from the estate for themselves.

With such cases, our legal experts start with carrying out a fact-finding exercise.  Executors and trustees must explain their activities.  Beneficiaries are entitled to ask them for financial accounts and supporting documentation at any time.  This allows questions not only about progress to be answered, but also for the Contentious Probate Team to look at whether mistakes have been made. If your request for accounts is ignored, an application can be made to Court for an order that the executors produce them.  Failure to comply amounts to contempt of court and this can have serious consequences, such as a fine or even imprisonment.

Executors and trustees have personal liability for their actions so if they make a mistake, even an innocent one, they are going to have to meet the losses out of their own pocket. It is also possible for an application to be made for their removal as executor or trustee.  Often this will result in an independent professional, like a solicitor, being appointed in their place.  

Beneficiaries are often worried about paying to recover what they’re entitled to.  WBW Solicitors have various funding arrangements available, including delaying payment of our fees until we have recovered for them the money they are due.

It’s important to mention of course that sometimes executors and trustees come under scrutiny when they’ve done nothing wrong. Often, they’ve tried to manage things themselves to save legal fees.  The Contentious Probate Team are often asked to help with executor and trustee disputes, by responding to questions posed or to ensure they comply with their obligations. 

Whether you are a concerned beneficiary, or an executor or trustee needing guidance on your obligations and responsibilities, our specialist inheritance dispute team can help.  Contact our client co-ordinator and they will put you in touch with a member of the team cp@wbw.co.uk