Uncooperative executors

What can be done about uncooperative executors?

We deal with inheritance disputes involving uncooperative, incompetent or hostile executors nationally. Our large team of specialist contentious probate lawyers which is recommended by The Legal 500 deals exclusively with this complex area of law. You can contact us for a free review of your situation and how we can help by calling 0333 888 0407 or by emailing us at [email protected]

If you are faced with uncooperative, incompetent or plain hostile executors then it often pays to seek specialist legal advice from solicitors who are experts in this field of practice.

Our team are highly experienced in dealing with executor disputes, working on behalf of beneficiaries or co-executors to achieve cost effective solutions.

We always try to resolve executor disputes out of court. Not only is this less stressful for the parties, but it avoids protracted disputes that often result in huge legal fees being accumulated.

Court action should be regarded as a last resort in any executor dispute. This was confirmed in a 2023 Court of Appeal case called Bowser v Smith & Anor. The case involved two executors – one of whom was a professional – who were not seeing eye to eye. The professional executor applied to court for an order to remove his co-executor. However the court said he had acted prematurely and refused to allow him to recover the legal costs he had incurred. The court’s decision was upheld on appeal. The appeal judge criticised the executor’s hasty court action, commenting that, “hostile court proceedings should be a last resort.”

Where possible, we attempt to reach resolution through correspondence, but mediation can be a very effective means to resolve a dispute. Our team make the most of advances in IT to arrange ‘virtual mediations’. These avoid the need for the parties to meet face to face and are also very cost effective.

When an out of court settlement cannot be reached, despite our best endeavours then court action may be the only way to overcome the impasse. We have lawyers with experience of taking executor disputes through the court system, all the way to a contested hearing where necessary.

Uncooperative executors need to be wary of the consequences that await them if we are forced to take court action. Not only are they at risk of being removed from their role as an executor, but they can also find themselves facing financial sanctions in the form of a personal costs order or a requirement to repay monies to the estate. In the most serious cases executors can be sent to prison. This is what happened to the executor in the 2022 case of Totton & Anor v Totton. The judge said that the executor’s failure to supply solicitors representing a claimant with financial information about the estate was so serious that it amounted to contempt of court. The executor was sentenced to four months, but luckily for him it was suspended to give him a final opportunity of acting reasonably and providing the information.

If you find yourself facing uncooperative executors and are looking for legal experts to achieve the best solution for you, then contact us for a free chat about how we can help. Call us on 0333 888 0407 or email us at [email protected]

Uncooperative executors