The use of citations to deal with executor delays
Probate is a notoriously slow process. Looking at it from the outside, it can often be difficult to appreciate why it takes so long. However, where money and property are involved it is very important for the executors (or administrators, where there’s no will) to properly observe all the legal and taxation formalities. Failure to do so could result in them incurring personal liability.
Administering an estate involves multiple processes. Executors must identify all of the deceased’s assets and liabilities and deal with the appropriate tax forms before they can apply for a grant of probate. Once the grant has been obtained the executors must then collect in, and if necessary sell, all the assets and settle the debts of the estate, including any tax liability. Only once this has been done can distributions be made to the beneficiaries. All of this takes time, especially in large or complex estates, so patience is required.
However, executors do sometimes drag their feet, delaying administration of an estate without good cause. This understandably creates frustration for the beneficiaries. So, when executor delays do occur then what can a beneficiary do about it?
We explain elsewhere on this website how action can be taken to remove an executor who is delaying matters. Another step a frustrated beneficiary can take is to issue a citation. There are a number of different citations that can be used:
1. A citation to accept or refuse a grant of representation
This is useful when there is delay in applying for a grant of representation. You can use a ‘citation to accept or refuse a grant of representation’ to force someone who has the right to obtain a grant to take action. If that person wishes to proceed with obtaining a grant then they must respond by entering an appearance and then move swiftly to apply for a grant. If they do not do so then they lose their right to act.
2. A citation to take probate
A ‘citation to take probate’ can be used where some steps have already been taken to administer the estate without the grant of representation having been taken out, a practice sometimes referred to as ‘intermeddling’. It can be used by beneficiaries to force the ‘intermeddler’ to obtain a grant and complete the administration of the estate. If no appearance is entered in response to the citation, then the beneficiary can ask the court to order the ‘intermeddler’ to take out a grant, or permit the beneficiary to do so.
3. A citation to propound a will
A third type of citation is a ‘citation to propound a will’ which can be used when executor delays are caused by the existence of more than one will. The citation is directed to the executors and beneficiaries named in the secondary will. Again an appearance should be entered in response. If it isn’t then the person who issued the citation can seek a declaration that the will is invalid, and apply for a grant in respect of another will.
If you are facing executor delays and need an experienced solicitor to take action on your behalf then contact us on 0333 888 0404 or email us at [email protected]