If the executor of a Will is not paying you your Inheritance there are several things you can do.
Your position depends on what stage the Executor is at in administering your parent’s estate.
In all cases of estate administration, you can expect some delays. A legacy cannot be paid straight away. The Executor needs to work out what the value of the estate is, what debts there may be and who is entitled to what. The Executor has a legal duty to do this properly. If they do not, the Executors could be personally liable for any mistake they make.
It can take several months and so your delay may be normal. For other estates that are large or complex, it can be up to a year, if not more.
Nevertheless, the Executor is obliged to keep all beneficiaries updated on the progress of managing the Estate. If you suspect this is taking much longer than it ought to, you need to first raise your concerns with the Executor.
If you are not happy with the delay, you can demand an “account” of the estate from the Executor. That should outline how much you are due to receive.
If this does not work and the Executor is being difficult, then you may be able to have them removed as an Executor.
Removing an Executor is not a straightforward process. It is lengthy and costs a great deal. Only in certain circumstances will the Court agree to the removal of an Executor. They are:
a) Disqualification – for example if they have gone to jail
b) Incapacitated – meaning they cannot carry out their duties either physically or mentally; or
c) Unsuitable– for example of they have mismanaging an estate, or stolen estate money.
Simply being rude or slow is unlikely be sufficient to justify removal proceedings. The delay has to be substantial or the relationship with the family has to have completely broken down. Proving substantial delay is hard and often we advise family members to request that the Executor instructs a solicitor to do the work for the Executor. Whilst this is an estate expense, it is cheaper that going to Court.
If that is not successful then letters from lawyers should be sent before any court application. They will set out the problems to date and giving a time frame for a response to requests for information.
If the Executor is terrible and does not respond to suggestions, then it is possible to take a court case to have them removed. That application is normally coupled with an application that they account for what they have done to date. In some cases damages may be awarded.
Care should be taken not to issue a claim too early, as costs can be awarded against you, if you get it wrong.