Disputes Between Executors, Administrators or Beneficiaries

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Estate administration disputes

There are many complex issues around deceased estates and it’s common for disputes to arise between executors, administrators and beneficiaries. There are different duties attached to each role; and it’s important to understand your rights and obligations at all times when managing estates, particularly when disputes arise.

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How we help you

We work with executors, administrators and beneficiaries to understand your rights and resolve disputes. This includes help to:

  • Understand the various roles, rights and obligations of each party.
  • Advise on how to meet your obligations and comply with duties as set out by the Court.
  • Advise on any time limits that apply in managing the estate.
  • Navigate challenges when disputes arise.

Often the law specifies time limits on certain actions. It’s important to seek advice from experienced advisors like our Estate Litigation team to ensure you understand your rights and obligations – or risk being personally liable.

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Executors, Administrators and Beneficiaries

An executor is nominated in a person’s Will to manage their affairs when they die. If a person dies without a Will or an executor cannot or does not want to act, the Court can appoint an administrator to take charge of the deceased estate.

The executor or administrator’s job is to manage the deceased estate, pay all debts and distribute the assets according to the Will (or, if there is no Will, according to the law). It is their duty to safeguard the assets and look after the interests of the people who will ultimately receive them (the beneficiaries). If more than one executor or administrator is appointed, they must work together.

Beneficiaries have certain rights about a deceased estate. Executors and administrators have many duties with which they must comply.

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What types of disputes can arise?

Disputes between beneficiaries and executors (or administrators) commonly arise because the executor/administrator does not carry out their duties efficiently or properly. From time-to-time, we see cases where beneficiaries do not receive their entitlement (or any information at all) from the executor/administrator for many months or even years.

It’s also common for disputes to arise when the beneficiaries do not agree with the decisions of the executor/administrator. For example, an executor might plan to sell a deceased person’s home, but their loved ones would prefer it to stay in the family. Disputes can also arise as to how the executor interprets the Will.

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Serious disputes and the role of the Court

The most serious disputes occur when an executor/administrator does not act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. For example, where they waste or steal estate assets.

Disputes can also arise between executors or between administrators. This is common where several family members (who do not get along) are appointed to these roles.

If any disputes cannot be resolved amicably, the Court does have the power to review the actions of an executor (or administrator) and make directions about how they must act. If an executor (or administrator) wilfully or carelessly causes loss or damage to estate assets, the Court can hold them personally accountable. In very serious cases, the Court can even remove an executor (or administrator) from their position.

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Plan your next move

If you need advice about your rights, please contact one of our friendly Estate Litigation team members for a free 30-minute no obligation appraisal. Remember, time limits can apply on certain actions.

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“Thank you again for your kind attention to all the details of my case and your efforts towards a positive resolution”

PK

“You did an absolutely brilliant job. I cannot thank you enough… I’m sending you some wine in the post, don’t open it until Christmas!”

MD

“Thank you for all your help and assistance. Definitely one of the better lawyers I have dealt with over these years. Extremely efficient and fast. Keep it up.”

IP
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Don’t wait any longer to get the right advice

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