As a solicitor in the Dispute Resolution Department I often see families who have been torn apart fighting over a loved one’s estate, claiming “It’s what they would have wanted”. Without a properly drafted and executed will, no-one can confirm that.
However, even if there is a will, often a family member or friend is named as executor. This can be a false economy. Claims relating to mishandling of a deceased’s estate have almost tripled over the last year. These claims include theft of estate assets and failure to distribute assets in accordance with the will, favouring some beneficiaries above others. Amateur executors often have insufficient expertise or understanding of their fiduciary duties thus there is a very real danger of mismanagement of an estate, whether deliberately or innocently.
The executors themselves can also be at risk of a claim being brought against them for breach of duty; this can prove costly and stressful for all parties. To protect your loved ones and ensure your estate is correctly distributed it is advisable to appoint a specialist private client solicitor to prepare your will, naming an independent, qualified person as your Executor.
There is no guarantee that this will avoid future disputes over the estate but a comparatively small outlay may save not only money but the stress of a long drawn out legal battle which results in the family being estranged. Invest now, don’t make your family pay later.
Patricia Burge is a solicitor in the Dispute Resolution Department specialising in Contentious Probate and Commercial and Residential Property disputes at Gregory Abrams Davidson LLP. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0151 330 0745