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How To Deal With A Beneficiary Stand Off

Posted: Wednesday, 6 September 2023 @ 16:51

One of the scenarios I deal with on what I call difficult relations Estates is when once the Executor has submitted Estate Accounts for approval, one or more of the beneficiaries is not playing ball and not approving them.

There is no legal obligation for the the Executors to have the Estate Accounts approved but the danger for the Executor is that if the Estate Accounts are not approved, the Executors could be exposed to legal action later and potentially there will be no funds in the Estate meaning the Executor has more limited means to defend legal action.

Not great for the Executor.

In assessing the next step, the Executor may want to consider the likelihood of the beneficiary doing something legal and ultimately launching a legal action.

e.g Do you let sleeping dogs lie?

Will the Beneficiary accept that payment in full and final settlement?

Also, the Executor may want to ask - Have I done everything I can to settle this potential dispute with the disgruntled beneficiary? If a subsequent legal action was launched, would my conduct look good or less good before a Judge? 

If after all this, the Executor wishes to resolve matters with the Executor he or she can make a Part 8 Claim in the High Court(if financially justified) and seek to finalise the administration of the and obtain authorisation and blessing by the Court for the final estate accounts and proposed final distributions.

The Executor will have to show the beneficiary has continually frustrated the Claimants in their attempts to finalise the administration and raised various, unmeritorious objections and the Executor will present witness statement to back this up.

The goal will be to obtain a judgment including:  

(1) An order approving the estate accounts exhibited to the witness statement of the First Claimant

(2) An order authorising and blessing the Claimants to make final distributions and conclude the administration of the Deceased’s estate on the basis of those accounts;

(3) Provision for the payment by the Defendant of the costs of this claim alternatively as the Court deems fit. 

4) Further or other relief. Civil Procedure Rules Parts 8 and 64 will apply to the claim.