A woman removed as executor of her father’s will following a dispute with her brother.
The case involved a father who died in 2008. He was survived by his daughter and son who were the executors and beneficiaries of his will.
There were difficulties between the two of them and by February 2013, there had been no grant of probate – the process that proves in court that a will is valid.
The son then applied for the appointment of an independent administrator to break the deadlock.
However, before the application could be heard, he died suddenly in 2014 without leaving a will. He was survived by a partner who had claims against his estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
The partner took over the application for the appointment of an independent administrator of the father’s estate. She engaged a solicitor who applied for the daughter to be removed as executor and for him to be appointed instead.
The master, the person who deals with probate issues such as this, made the order bearing in mind that eight years had passed without an application for probate.
He considered that the daughter’s claims against her late father’s estate put her in a position of conflict and that leaving her as executor was a recipe for further trouble and delay.
The brother’s partner had substantial claims against his estate which could not be resolved until his entitlement in respect of his father’s estate was determined. In the circumstances, it was just and sensible to break the impasse by appointing the solicitor to administer the father’s estate.
That decision has been upheld by the High Court. It said the master had been entitled to take the view that the daughter was advancing claims that would lead to a conflict of interest. She had failed over a period of time to identify the assets and liabilities of the estate and to place a value on them.
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GIBBS v PICK & ANOR (2017)
Ch D (Newey J) 10/02/2017