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Claims against executors and administrators

17 Jan 2013

Probate Factsheet No. 2

Personal representatives (that is executors and administrators) do not always carry out their functions as they should. As a result, there are times when beneficiaries, and fellow personal representatives, can feel dissatisfied or aggrieved at the manner in which an estate is, or is not, being administered.

The personal representatives’ overriding duty when administering an estate is governed by section 25 of the Administration of Estates Act 1925:

“The personal representatives of a deceased person shall be under a duty to:
(a) collect and get in the real and personal estate of the deceased and administer it according to law …”

Personal representatives must act in accordance with this duty when exercising the powers given to them by any will, statute or common law. Such duties and powers conferred on personal representatives may be relied upon by disgruntled beneficiaries or fellow personal representatives in order to compel the offending personal representatives to properly administer an estate.

The following remedies and causes of action may be available to individuals who finds themselves in this situation:

  1. administration proceedings in order to ensure the proper administration of the estate and, usually, to obtain delivery of estate accounts and answers to queries relating to those accounts;
  2. appointment, removal or substitution of a personal representative;
  3. a personal claim against a personal representative or trustee for a devastavit or breach of trust concerning any breach of duty committed during their office;
  4. a personal claim against any third party in whose hands estate assets are wrongfully held; or
  5. injunctive relief against a personal representative in order to prohibit or compel steps being taken during an administration.

Beneficiaries faced with these circumstances can often feel shut-out, with the personal representatives refusing to provide even the most basic information concerning the estate. Swift action to preserve the estate assets and the pursuit of disclosure of estate information can be one of the first steps.

Your next steps to obtaining advice

The first step is to complete and submit a Contentious Probate Instructions form which will will help to ensure that we have all of the information that we need in order to provide you with initial advice in the most cost effective and efficient way possible. The form can be completed and submitted to us on-line or, if you prefer, you can print off the form, complete it by hand and either post, fax or scan and email it to us. Full instructions for this are included on the form and further details can be seen in the panel.

If for some reason you are unable to complete and return the form or email us, we are happy to provide you with an initial free telephone consultation in order to make a preliminary assessment of your matter. Please call us on 0115 986 3636 for further information.

Alternatively, you can e-mail your enquiry to us at estatedisputes@richardnelsonllp.co.uk providing a brief summary of the issues, along with your contact details. Once received, your form or email will be reviewed by a member of the team will who will contact you, possibly for an initial free telephone consultation.

Advisory note

The contents of this note are a brief summary of the principles relating to this topic and are not to be treated in any way as comprehensive advice for any particular matter. Each matter will turn substantially on its own facts and specific legal advice should be obtained in each case. If you would like more information on the topic, contact us directly today, or read our contentious probate service page.

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