Family members can sadly not be guaranteed to get along, which is one good reason why it makes sense to appoint a professional to act as an independent executor of your estate. Stuart Maher, Director and Head of the Watson Ramsbottom Private Client Department examines who this point was made in a case concerning a spiritualist grandmother who appointed a fellow believer to give effect to her wishes after her death.
The woman’s home was by far the biggest asset in her estate, which had a net worth of a little over £2.1 million. After specific bequests to her son and grandchildren, she left the residue of her estate to be divided equally between her son and daughter. That provision was subject to a requirement that £70,000 she had loaned to her son should be taken into account when calculating his share.
The son and daughter were unanimous in their view that the friend whom their mother had appointed as her executor had not done a good job. Whilst disputing their claim, he did not object to his removal from office. The issue then arose as to whether his successor should be the son, the daughter, both of them or an independent professional. The siblings did not see eye to eye and each of them put forward numerous objections to the other’s appointment.
Ruling on the dispute, the High Court noted that it was clear from the terms of the mother’s will that her intention was that, if her chosen executor could not perform his role for any reason, her daughter should take over. The estate had little cash in it and there were clear advantages in substituting the daughter as her mother’s personal representative. In taking that course, the Court took comfort from the fact that the daughter was being advised by experienced solicitors who had considerable knowledge of the mother’s estate.
Stuart Maher, Director and Head of the Watson Ramsbottom Private Client Department comments “One of the principal advantages of appointing a qualified professional as your executor is that they are experienced in dealing with issues that may arise with regard to the administration of the estate and can resolve any problems quickly and correctly.”
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