When disputes between beneficiaries arise, what are your legal options?
When dealing with disputes between beneficiaries we must first consider whether your are one of the beneficiaries involved in the dispute, or you are an executor/administrator of the estate, says Legal 500 recommended inheritance lawyer Naomi Ireson.
Where you are a beneficiary
If you are a beneficiary in dispute with a fellow beneficiary then in the first instance you should raise your concerns with the executor (or administrator) of the estate.
Executors are often able to amicably resolve issues between beneficiaries, perhaps with some input from the solicitor who they have instructed to administer the estate.
Where the dispute cannot be sorted out informally then you may wish to consider consulting solicitors who are experts in dealing with inheritance disputes.
Our lawyers are experienced in dealing with disputes between beneficiaries and have handled a variety of such disputes including cases where the validity of a Will is being challenged, the refusal of a beneficiary to move out of a property owned by the estate and the failure to approve proposals for the distribution of an estate.
Each case is different and will turn on its own facts. Our lawyers will advise on the options open to you and will consider whether the dispute can be resolved out of court through mediation, which is quicker and cheaper than formal proceedings.
Where you are an executor or administrator
Personal Representatives (executors and administrators) must adopt a neutral position in disputes between beneficiaries. So, if you find yourself in the middle of a dispute between warring beneficiaries it is important to remain impartial. If an executor fails to do this then they run the risk of becoming personally liable.
The safest course of action is for an executor to seek independent legal advice from specialist inheritance dispute solicitors. An experienced solicitor should be able to quickly assess the issues and give guidance to the executor on how the dispute should be handled. Among the options open to an executor in this position is to apply to the court for a decision to be made by a judge on how the executor should act. While this will involve the estate incurring legal costs, a specialist solicitor will be able to tell you if it is the right course of action and make the application on your behalf. The costs off making the application should be recoverable from the estate, or from one or more of the beneficiaries themselves.
How we can help
If you are involved is a dispute between beneficiaries and would like expert guidance from Naomi and her team then call us on our free legal helpline 0333 888 0407 or email us at [email protected]