What you can do if you have not been paid your legacy

If you have not been paid your legacy, what can you do?

If you are due money under a Will you expect to be paid. So, what can you do if you have not been paid your legacy?

Where money that should be paid to you under the terms of a Will (or the intestacy rules if there is no Will) is withheld then you can take legal action to require the executor or administrator to pay you what you are due.

We regularly assist beneficiaries in claiming what is rightfully theirs, and can also claim interest when there has been a lengthy and inexcusable delay in making payment.

The legal duties of executors and administrators are set out in Section 25 of the Administration of Estates Act 1925. If those duties are breached, then a claim can be made against the executor personally.

Claims can be pursued on the basis of the executor’s breach of duty as the trustee of the estate. The legal principle of devastavit can also be used.  Devastavit is the mismanagement of an estate causing financial loss. The waste of estate assets can either be deliberate (which is likely to involve allegations of fraud and dishonesty) or unintentional (when it would be deemed negligent). An executor who breaches this principle can be required to restore the assets to the estate. If those assets are no longer available, then the executor can be ordered to pay compensation to the beneficiary from their own personal funds.

It is important to note that allegations of dishonesty and fraud are very serious matter and should only be made where there is clear evidence to support such allegations.

Where it is alleged that an executor has failed to act with the necessary care and skill, and with the necessary due diligence, then full details must be provided regarding the actions the executor took in administering the estate. For instance, did they make sufficient efforts to locate all the beneficiaries who are entitled to receive a legacy. Did the executor take all the necessary steps to discharge their obligations as the deceased’s personal representative? Is it right that they be personally held to account for the loss caused to the estate?

Finally, even if many years have elapsed since the money first became due, it is still worth seeking legal advice as the individual facts of the case will determine whether limitation deadlines apply.

If you have not been paid your legacy and would like guidance on the legal options open to you then contact us for a free case assessment and details of No Win, No Fee funding. Call 0333 888 0407 or send an email to us at [email protected]

What you can do if you have not been paid your legacy