At the time of his death, Mr G owed a rest home $51,759. Following his executor's refusal to acknowledge or pay the debt, the rest home sought an order removing the executor from Mr G's estate on the grounds of conflict of interest and hostility.
The High Court noted that executors have a duty to pay valid debts owing to third parties, and that an independent and impartial mind must be applied when assessing whether a debt is validly claimed. The Court found that the executor had strongly held views about the impact of the rest home's care on his father, believing it was causative of his death (the Court accepted that these views were honestly held but noted that they were not presently substantiated in any meaningful way). The executor also had financial interests to protect; both as sole beneficiary of the estate, and as the trustee (and beneficiary) of a Trust from which money would have to be recovered to pay the rest home. In these circumstances, the Court agreed with the rest home that an independent executor was required to administer Mr G's estate, and made orders removing the executor and appointing an independent senior lawyer in his place. Bupa Care Services NZ Ltd v Gillibrand  NZHC 2086