Island knowledge, national expertise

Make a Will and Appoint a Professional Executor - Two Ways to Avoid Conflict

There is ultimately only so much that you can do to prevent your loved ones falling out over inheritance issues after you are gone. However, as a High Court decision showed, the threat of bad blood developing can be greatly reduced by making an expertly drafted will and engaging a professional as your executor.

The case concerned a woman whose principal asset, a house, was said to be worth up to £400,000 but who died without making a will. Under the rules of intestacy, her estate was to be divided equally between her five children. In the absence of a will, there could be no executor, professional or otherwise, so one of her sons – the defendant – took on the role of administrator of her estate.

However, another of her sons – the claimant – sought his removal from that office. He did so on the basis that the defendant had delayed too long in selling the house and distributing the proceeds to the sibling group. The defendant responded by accusing the claimant of fraud. After he failed either to put in evidence or to attend a hearing before a judge, however, the claimant was appointed as substitute administrator in his place.

Rejecting the defendant's application to set aside the judge's order, the Court found that he had no good reason for his failure to attend the hearing. His fraud allegation had only been abandoned at a very late stage in the case and the claimant had been put to considerable expense in defending himself. For that reason, the defendant was ordered to pay the claimant's legal costs on the punitive indemnity basis.

  • "Thank you for the wonderful advice your firm gave us. We will have no hesitation in contacting you should we need any help in the future."

    — Client, Isle of Wight

  • "Thank-you again - you really have been amazing and so helpful and I’m extremely grateful."

    — Client

  • "Parisa - Thank you so much for all that you have done for me, your kindness and patience have made my claim so much easier and explaining everything to me has helped so much. Thank you again."

    — Client, Isle of Wight

  • "Thank you for the wonderful advice Claudia gave us. We will have no hesitation in contacting you should we need any help in the future."

    — Client

  • "The service I received was second to none. I will of course happily recommend you to others."

    — Client

  • "Thank you to Parisa, who phoned me this morning. She was absolutely brilliant, provided crystal clear advice and put my mind at rest. For months I've wondered whether or not I should consult a solicitor and I now feel that I can move forward."

    — Client

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.