12th March 2019
Executor Of Estate Refusing To Release Funds
A client came to us with a problem about his late grandmother’s estate. She had lived in Chepstow all her life, and brought up her family in the town. When making her will in the 1970s she made her son and his wife the executors of her estate. The marriage did not last, and both partners went on to re-marry. Her son went on to start a family, and the client and his sisters were born.
Unfortunately when the grandmother’s son and his wife divorced, she did not update the will. When she died, it meant that her son and his very much estranged ex-wife – now known as Mrs C – were the two executors, and were charged with working together to administer the estate. Sadly, the client’s father died shortly afterwards, and this meant that Mrs C was now in sole charge of the grandmother’s estate. She showed no interest in distributing it, and in fact started to treat the grandmother’s house as her own.
When the client asked us to help, we notified Mrs C that if she did not pay out the estate funds to the beneficiaries, who included the client and his sisters, she faced a court claim. For reasons unknown she refused to do so – in effect, she called our bluff.
So we had to go to court: we obtained a court order that Mrs C sell the house and pay the proceeds and other estate funds into the court’s bank account. It was not long afterwards that the client and the other beneficiaries received what they were entitled to under the will. There was also a sting in the tail for Mrs C: the court ordered her to pay all the client’s legal costs from her own pocket.
When the executor of an estate does not carry out their duties, such as refusing to pay out funds to beneficiaries or even using the estate assets themselves, the court will intervene to force them to do so. It can even remove them as an executor.