Challenging an Executor of a Will

Losing a loved one can be difficult enough without having to deal with an Executor who is not carrying out their duties.

The role of Executor is a trusted position; they have access to the deceased’s, private information, possessions, property, and finances. They are bound by law to act in the best interests of the Beneficiaries. Despite this, issues can arise, making the estate administration process more stressful than it otherwise needs to be. If you wish to challenge the Executor of a Will, our contentious probate solicitors may be able to help.

What are an Executor’s responsibilities?

The Executor is the person named in a Will as being responsible for dealing with someone’s estate after they die. They can be family members, friends, or even professionals (a solicitor, for example). You can appoint any number of Executors (but only up to four can take up a grant). The responsibility of joint Executors is shared, but all key decisions must be made jointly.

An Executor’s responsibilities may include:

  • Registering the death and obtaining a death certificate
  • Arranging the funeral
  • Securing the original and getting a copy/copies of the Will
  • Securing the deceased’s property
  • Valuing the estate
  • Applying for probate
  • Collecting assets, money, and property
  • Paying outstanding debts out of the estate
  • Preparing estate accounts
  • Distributing the estate according to the Will

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Whilst it is an Executor’s duty to carry out these tasks, it is recommended to instruct a specialist probate solicitor to help carry out these tasks. Doing so not only takes some of the stress away but helps avoid the risk of an Executor distributing the estate incorrectly.

Can you challenge an Executor of a will?

If you believe an Executor is failing in their other duties, you can challenge them if you are a Beneficiary or co-Executor.

Common reasons for challenging an Executor include:

  • Taking ownership of assets or property themselves
  • Failure to give Beneficiaries details of the deceased’s estate
  • Selling the deceased’s property or assets at a reduced price or without consulting other Executors
  • Charging unreasonable expenses to the estate
  • Prolonging or failure to apply for probate
  • Delaying or failing to provide payment to Beneficiaries

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If you consider that the Executor is distributing estate assets incorrectly or failing in any of their other duties, you may be able to bring a claim against them. Any claim could also include an application to the court to have an Executor removed, with or without substitution.

To speak to our specialist Executor disputes solicitors, call 0117 325 2929 or fill out our online enquiry form.

What action can be taken against an Executor?

The first step when challenging an Executor of a Will is to talk to them and express your concerns. Sometimes they will not realise that they have failed in their duties or do not want to ask for help, especially if they are elderly or a sole Executor and are struggling with the pressure the role places on them.

If you have tried challenging an Executor and the problem remains, or it gives rise to a dispute, you should speak to an experienced contentious probate solicitor about what to do next. You may be able to bring a claim against the Executor and apply to have them removed.

Challenging an Executor FAQs

If the Will appoints more than one Executor, you will have to administer the estate together. It is not always possible to act alone or override another Executor. However, if you believe that an Executor has failed in their duties or perhaps acted fraudulently, you can challenge them.

If the estate administration process is taking longer than you would reasonably expect, including if the Executor is delaying distributing the estate, you should attempt to find out why.

Sometimes, Executors are advised to wait a certain amount of time before distributing the estate in case any claims are made. Or sometimes it is quite simply a case of the process being delayed by third parties. However, if you have challenged the Executor and there is no reasonable explanation, you can ask the court to remove the Executor and replace them.

If a named Executor refuses to administer an estate, you can apply to compel them to do so or to remove them. You should inform them of your intentions first, giving them the opportunity to explain why they are not carrying out their duties. If they do not respond, you can apply to the court to have them removed. This should be done through an experienced solicitor.

Yes. Both Executors and Beneficiaries can take an Executor to court if they believe they have failed in their duties. The court will want to see evidence supporting your claim. Click here to find out more.

Get help with challenging an Executor of a Will

Our contentious probate solicitors understand the impact that the mismanagement of an estate can have on Beneficiaries and fellow Executors. If you need help with challenging or contesting the Executor of an estate, call our team on 0117 325 2929 or fill out our online enquiry form.


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