It may be tempting to save a little money by appointing a loved one – rather than an expert solicitor – as executor of your will. However, as one case concerning a dispute between three brothers showed, that is rarely a wise course to take.

A woman’s will was simplicity itself, in that it left her £1.8 million estate equally to her three sons and appointed all of them as executors. However, in common with most people, her main asset was her home and complications arose because one of the sons continued to live there after her death. The man was less financially successful than his brothers and was adamant that he deserved a larger proportion of their mother’s estate, having cared for her during the last eight years of her life.

His brothers wished to realise their inheritance by selling the property and, with that objective in mind, applied to the High Court for his removal as executor. They argued that he was using his appointment as a bargaining chip with a view to making them agree to an uneven distribution of the estate.

In granting the application, the Court found that, although the man had not behaved improperly, there was an irreconcilable conflict between his potential claim on the estate and his duties as executor. The Court directed his replacement by an independent lawyer, but warned his brothers that they might also have to step aside as executors if the dispute continued and further conflicts of interest arose.

Further Reading:

How professional Executors can benefit you and your family

Will your Death in Service payment result in an Inheritance Tax bill?

Could a text become your will?


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