In what circumstances can I sue an executor?
In this article we take a look at a question that is frequently raised with our inheritance dispute team, “Can I sue an executor?”
Who can be an executor?
Executors are named in a person’s Will. They are responsible for handling the estate of that person when they pass away, and carrying out their instructions in accordance with the terms of their Will. Executors are usually legal professionals, or family or friends of the deceased.
What is the role of an executor?
The role involves mostly legal, tax and administrative work. Common duties of an executor are:
- Registering the death and obtaining a death certificate
- Getting copies of the Will
- Arranging the funeral
- Taking responsibility for property
- Valuing the estate, sorting out finances and dealing with assets
- Paying any Inheritance Tax due
- Applying for probate
- Distributing the estate
Can an executor be sued?
Yes, executors can be sued and they can be held personally liable for their actions when administering an estate.
It is common for executors to underestimate the amount of time the role takes and how complex it can be, which can lead to mistakes being made. Sometimes executors can allow their personal feelings to influence how they act, with the result that they breach their duties and obligations. In other cases executors intentionally act inappropriately and need to be held to account when third parties suffer loss as a result.
The circumstances where beneficiaries or other concerned parties might feel the need to take legal action against an executor include:
- Financial mismanagement of the estate – for instance, an executor not paying debts, showing favouritism in distribution, or mishandling assets;
- Failure to follow the terms of a Will;
- Negligence – not keeping proper records, failing to communicate with beneficiaries, or making decisions that could harm the estate; and
- Conflicts of interest – where an executor allows their personal interests to conflict with their duties to the estate or to the beneficiaries.
How we can help
Legal proceedings can be commenced against an executor to recover financial losses. Executors can also be removed from office. Our specialist team of lawyers are experienced in dealing with claims against executors and can often work on a No Win, No Fee basis.
To find out where you stand or for further guidance on the question, “Can I sue an executor?” then contact our free legal helpline.
Call 0333 888 0407 or email us at [email protected]