Coodes Solicitors’ Melanie Grose warns that claims against people failing to act properly when carrying out someone’s wishes under a Will as executors have tripled in the last year. The reasons for the sharp rise are complicated, but the main culprit is the growing culture of ‘DIY probate’.
Executors are, in the main, individuals who are appointed under a Will to administer someone’s affairs after their death. This is generally a trusted friend or family member. What such executors almost universally lack however is legal expertise.
The rise in disputes covers a range of issues, from simple errors of legal understanding to the wrongful distribution of assets, and even theft. The figures show that even a properly drafted Will does not prevent disputes if the executors do not understand the Will or what is required of them to administer the estate correctly.
This dramatic rise in probate disputes is partly due to the growth of the DIY approach, where executors believe they can administer the estate of a deceased person without the help of a solicitor. Saving on professional fees might look tempting, but the potential pitfalls are many and can prove very costly if things go wrong – not just financially but also the emotional strain of families torn apart by disputes.
Executors can be held personally financially liable for any losses caused by problems that arise, even if these have been caused by simple and unintentional mistakes by them.
My advice to would-be DIY executors is clear: get expert advice as early as possible or you may end up paying much more than you bargained for. Coodes can offer a probate service to meet your needs including fixed prices.
Melanie Grose specialises in will and probate disputes