The administration of the estate of a loved one can be a difficult job. There are lots of decisions needed at what is always an overwhelming time. Consequently it is not uncommon for executors to sometimes clash or even fall out. Circumstances can arise which can leave some feeling that other executors are not acting in the most beneficial way, are taking over or not sharing information. Ultimately this situation can create even more upset and is certainly the last thing the deceased and family and friends would want. Steve Wright, from our Estates team, provides some guidance on what can go wrong:
Problems that can arise
One of the main jobs after someone’s death can be to clear property, dispose of personal effects and even put the house up for sale. Selling a home frequently causes friction, even in ordinary circumstances, and when it closely follows a death, emotions can run high. There are also decisions to be made over payments of expenses, who should be allowed to buy assets such as property or valuables, agreeing on valuations and closing or moving bank accounts. One executor may want to hold on to any property until the market improves, while another may want to sell straight away. The process itself always takes time, which can be a source of frustration.
Maintaining good relationships
One of the key ways to maintain a good relationship between executors is to communicate as much as possible. If something has caused a delay, make sure everyone knows why and that it is unavoidable. If different valuations have been received, make sure the situation is talked through and try and take everyone’s point of view into account.
Stepping aside as an executor
If an executor does not want to act, or feels they are unable to do so, it is possible to stand down before administration begins. They can either renounce the role permanently or ask for their power to be reserved, which could allow them to apply to court to become an executor at a later date.
If the relationship between executors breaks down completely, it is possible for one to apply to the court to have another removed, which the court might do if it believes this is in the best interests of the estate. There is then an option for a new appointment to be made.
When drawing up your Will, it is worth considering whether to invite a professional executor to act for you. The advantage of this is that professional executors are very experienced in dealing with probate and will also act impartially. This can minimise delay and reassure everyone involved that the estate’s best interests are being observed throughout the entire process.
To discuss any aspect of your estate planning please do get in touch.
Steve Wright, Operations Manager – Executor and Trustee email@example.com