Under Section 50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 the Court has the power remove the Executors. Where a Grant has not been obtained the Court has the power to ‘pass over’ an executor or potential administrator under the Senior Courts Act 1981 section 116.

Provided an executor has not intermeddled they can consider signing a form PA15 or PA17. These forms are standardised forms for executors to give up their legal responsibility and role permanently (also known as ‘renunciation’) to apply for probate.

Common reasons for disputes to arise between the executor and the beneficiaries

*Executors failed to value correctly the assets of the estate or claim reliefs.

*Executors failed to update and inform beneficiaries about the administration.

* Executors failed to identify the extent of the estate.

* Executors have a conflict of interest between their claim on the estate and their duties

* Executors have acted in a partisan manner towards a claimant or a beneficiary

* There has been a breakdown in the relations between the executor’s preventing administration.

If the administration of an estate is not being carried out properly a beneficiary or a co-executor may consider making an application to remove an executor or all the executors and potentially replacing them with a neutral administer (usually a neutral solicitor)

In the case of Harris v Earwicker [2015] Chief Master Marsh made it clear that it is unnecessary for the Court to find any wrongdoing or fault on the part of the Executors. The guiding principle is whether the administration of the estate is being carried out properly.

If for instance, there is deadlock between the executors or the executors and the beneficiaries this may be sufficient reason for the Court to remove an executor.

If an executor is removed by way of a part 8 application, they are unlikely to be entitled to an indemnity from the estate. Civil Procedure rule 46.3 is of no assistance where an Executor unsuccessful defends a removal application.

Therefore, executors who defend removal applications can be personally liable for their own costs in the defence and for the successful parties’ costs. For an example of how this principle can work in practice please refer to the case of Lea Lilly Perry and Tamar Pery v Dieter Walter Neupert and others [2019] EWHC 2275

It is crucial that before you entertain making an application to remove an executor or even threaten to do so that you take independent legal advice. Clodes Solicitors are contentious probate solicitors with an experience of making and defending applications to defend executors and or administrators. Whilst Clodes Solicitors are based in Cardiff they can accept instructions from anywhere in England and Wales.

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