How our executor & administrator disputes specialists can help

executor & administrator disputes frequently asked questions

In addition to the general duties to deal with the estate properly, a PR owes a number of key duties to beneficiaries, which include:
  • To act in accordance with the terms of the will (if there is one)
  • not placing themselves in a position where their own interests conflict with those of the beneficiaries
  • not placing themselves in a position where they profit from their position at the expense of the beneficiaries
  • to treat all the beneficiaries equally
The role of a PR is often a difficult task, especially in circumstances where there are strained family relationships before the death of the individual. The fact that an individual is named as an executor in a will does not mean that person has to accept that role. If they decide before they start administering the estate and acting as a PR, (known as “intermeddling”), that they do not want to accept the role, they can “renounce” the position and walk away. However, they cannot simply walk away from the role once they have a grant of probate. They can then only be removed by an order of the court.
Whilst the PRs may not have caused any loss to the estate, a disgruntled beneficiary may not be happy with their actions. Such concerns include:
  • delays in the administration of the estate;
  • disputes over the valuations of assets;
  • disputes over the removal of personal items;
  • not receiving their share of the estate.
Beneficiaries who are not happy with the way an estate is being administered can request an explanation from the PRs. They can ask for an account of the estate and if the PRs don’t provide one then an application can be made to court for an order that they provide an inventory and account.
A beneficiary would have grounds to bring a claim against a PR where that individual has been guilty of failing to administer the estate properly and that has caused loss to the estate as a result.
If a PR has breached their duties then it may be possible to take action against them. This can include:
  • an application to court for the removal of the PR
  • an application to Court for an order setting aside a transaction the PR entered into on behalf of the estate
  • an application to the Court for an order that a PR effectively repay any profits he has made at the expense of the beneficiaries
The PR has personal liability for any actions they undertake which are in breach of their duties and so if they have caused loss to the estate then they will have to pay that money back.
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