What can you do if an executor refuses to pay?

If an executor refuses to pay a beneficiary money they are due then you have a range of legal options open to you, including applying to the court for what is known as an ‘Account’.

In this real-life case study we look at what happened when an executor refused to pay a beneficiary his share of rent received from property owned by the estate.

When our client’s father died 15 years ago he left his sole asset (his house) to his three children in equal shares, naming one of those children (our client’s stepbrother) as Executor. During the ensuing years, the Executor rented the property out, receiving regular rent from the tenants. He occasionally undertook work on the house, repairing it as and when needed, but at no stage did he make any payment to his brothers, who should each have received one-third of the rent, less expenses.

On a couple of occasions, our client asked the Executor for an explanation of what was occurring, but he was ignored. He was in desperate need for money to pay off his student loans, so he contacted our free legal helpline for guidance on what a beneficiary can do if an Executor refuses to pay them money they are entitled to.

We advised on the options open to him and agreed to take on his case. Because the Executor was refusing to cooperate we felt that formal court action was required.  One option was to ask the court to remove the Executor from office, but we decided that the best option was to make an application in the High Court for an “Account”.  This required the Executor to provide information on all the rental income he had received, and the expenses that he had to pay out.

The Executor ignored the initial hearing. When he eventually accepted he was party to the court proceedings, he then failed to follow court Orders. We therefore asked the Court to enforce those Orders, which it did. When the Executor finally provided the documentation it was clear that the expenses he had claimed were over-inflated and included payments to himself as a “managing agent” despite there being no authority in the Will to do so.

The Court concluded that a substantial payment had to be made to our client, and therefore ordered that the house should be sold with a lawyer from this firm having conduct of the sale.  The Court also ordered the Executor to pay all the legal costs from his share of the proceeds of sale.

This was a very good result for our client who will not only receive his one-third share of the sale proceeds, but will also be paid the rent he should have received over the past 15 years, as well as having his legal costs paid.

This demonstrates what can be done when an Executor refuses to comply with their duties and obligations. Every case is different, of course, with a range of different options being available. Our specialist team will be happy to provide a free review of your case and identify the steps that can be taken.

For further guidance on what a beneficiary can do if an executor refuses to pay contact our free legal helpline.

What can you do if an executor refuses to pay?