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Disputes Between Beneficiaries

Losing a loved one is an emotionally challenging time, which means dealing with their estate and assets on top of this can feel incredibly overwhelming. When disputes between beneficiaries arise, this can be a stressful occurrence for the Will executor, as well as for the beneficiaries themselves.

If you’re a beneficiary or an executor and you need advice regarding a dispute, our contentious probate solicitors can offer you the legal assistance you need.

Our specialist solicitors have plenty of experience and knowledge in beneficiary disagreements. We can assist clients with issues between beneficiaries and executors, as well as general disagreements regarding Wills and probate. Additionally, we have supported clients with all manner of complicated disputes and approach every case sympathetically and practically, helping individuals to ensure that their loved one’s estate is administered properly.

We can offer many different types of support for clients, including:

  • Assistance with disputes between beneficiaries
  • Legal guidance if a beneficiary is missing
  • Advice on uncooperative beneficiaries

Get in touch with our Will disputes solicitors in Chichester, Fareham, Petworth and Havant

Speak to one of our Will dispute solicitors in ChichesterFarehamHavant or Petworth or use the contact form to make an enquiry.

Why choose Glanvilles Will dispute solicitors?

Our Will dispute solicitors offer a sensitive and professional service, helping you to administer the estate of your loved one, support a family member to do so, or to receive your rightful claim as a beneficiary. We appreciate that dealing with the death of a loved one can be taxing and that the situation can feel even more tense if disputes between beneficiaries occur.

At Glanvilles Solicitors, we help clients to resolve disputes as swiftly and efficiently as possible. We realise that the laws surrounding Wills and probates can be hard to understand and that beneficiaries and executors may not fully comprehend their rights and responsibilities. Our specialist lawyers will clearly communicate your obligations and options as well as providing the necessary support when you are making these important decisions.

How our contentious probate solicitors can help

Disputes between beneficiaries

Will executors, also known as personal representatives, can only take action on instructions that beneficiaries have agreed on. If there is a dispute between the beneficiaries, the executor will need to seek advice from a contentious probate solicitor to find an appropriate resolution.

There are many different types of beneficiary disputes. For instance, disagreements may occur regarding the decision to sell the deceased’s property should be sold, (particularly if one of the beneficiaries has been living in the property). It is not uncommon for beneficiaries to disagree if one individual will receive a higher portion of the estate that another party.

When disputes arise between beneficiaries, our lawyers can help the involved parties to negotiate, using Will meditation processes. Glanvilles Solicitors will attempt to solve beneficiary disputes without court proceedings; however, we can also provide this type of legal support if necessary.

Missing beneficiaries

When a Will executor is administering an estate, problems can arise if beneficiaries are missing. If a beneficiary cannot be located, there are several routes to resolve the associated issues:

  • Split the funds between the beneficiaries who are present. The executor should have the beneficiaries sign an agreement stating that they are obligated to return a portion of the money if the missing beneficiary is later located.
  • Split the estate between the present beneficiaries and get an appropriate insurance policy. The policy can be used to cover the missing beneficiary’s money if they are found.
  • Separate the amount that the missing beneficiary is entitled to from the rest of the estate and store the money for them. The sum can be transferred to them later if they contact the Will executor.
  • Have the court grant a Benjamin Order. This order protects the Will executor, and is made using the assumption that the missing beneficiary has passed away.

Uncooperative beneficiaries

Before a beneficiary can receive their share of an estate, they will be asked to sign a release The release is a legal document used to confirm that the beneficiary approves of the administration of the estate.

Under some circumstances, a beneficiary may be uncooperative and, for example, refuses to sign off an estate account. When these issues arise, the Will executor can choose to pay the uncooperative beneficiary’s share to the court. Though this is a legally valid option, it is unusual, and there is the risk that the beneficiary may later ask for reimbursement for the associated costs. Another option is to apply for a CPR Part 64 and wait to receive further instructions from the court.

If you’re in the process of administering an estate, and you are dealing with an uncooperative beneficiary, our contentious probate solicitors offer the appropriate legal assistance.

If you are a beneficiary, and you are reluctant to sign a release because you do not agree with how the estate has been administered, we can offer legal guidance on your options and next steps. For more information, get in touch with our Wills and estate planning solicitors.

Disputes between executors and beneficiaries

When an executor is appointed to carry out the estate administration for a deceased person’s estate, they have a responsibility to ensure they are doing everything correctly and within the law. However, there are times when executor problems with beneficiaries can occur, for example, when a beneficiary believes the executor is breaching their duties or where there are disagreements on how the executor is handling it and where a beneficiary refuses to sign release.

Whether you are a beneficiary or executor facing a dispute, speaking to a solicitor at the earliest opportunity is crucial.

At Glanvilles, we recognise how contentious and disruptive beneficiary executor conflict can be. We believe in encouraging our clients to approach matters in a constructive way through methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), including negotiation or mediation.

Should the matter be more serious, for example, if you believe there is a breach of duties, our specialist team will guide you through the necessary court proceedings. We have a successful track record for helping clients through these difficult times, and with our assistance, you can be assured you have the best chance of success.  

Frequently asked questions about beneficiaries and Wills

What rights does a beneficiary of a will have?

A beneficiary has legal rights over their share of the estate, but only once the estate has been administered. Before this point, the beneficiary should receive information about the progress of the administration.

After the grant of probate has been issued, the Will executor must ensure that the accounts are up to date, and present these accounts to the beneficiaries (if the beneficiaries ask for these). The beneficiaries have the right to see the Will after the grant of probate has been administered.

If a beneficiary is concerned that a Will executor is mismanaging the estate, it is vital that the beneficiary seeks the advice of an expert solicitor.

How long does a beneficiary have to sign a release?

There is no specific time limit for signing the release, and the beneficiary does not have to sign if they do not agree with how the estate has been dealt with. However, if the beneficiary does approve, it is advisable that they sign promptly, in order to receive their share of the estate.

When might a beneficiary not sign a release?

A beneficiary might not sign a release if they have concerns about the administration processes, or if they believe that the will executor is mishandling the estate. If a beneficiary is disappointed with their share of the estate, they might proceed to challenge the Will and its validity. If a beneficiary believes that the Will executor is deliberately withholding information, they will need to consult a lawyer.

Can a beneficiary remove a Will executor?

Under some circumstances, a beneficiary may attempt to remove a Will executor. The associated process is complicated; however, the courts will consider removing an executor if the decision would result in the proper administration of the estate.

If you are an executor, and a beneficiary has applied to have you removed, you’ll need specialist legal advice. The same is true if a beneficiary is challenging your expenses and decisions.

Get in touch with our Will disputes solicitors in Chichester, Fareham, Petworth and Havant

Speak to one of our Will dispute solicitors in ChichesterFarehamHavant or Petworth or use the contact form to make an enquiry.