What can I do if an executor has stolen money from an estate in the UK?
An executor’s role is to fulfill the wishes of the deceased in accordance with the terms of their Will. Any course of action that contradicts the Will may result in the beneficiaries taking legal action against the executor. This includes the most serious misconduct, such as stealing money from the estate.
What rules govern the role of an executor?
Rules regarding the role of an executor are set out under the Administration of Estates Act 1925. Most importantly, section 25 states that heir duties as follows:
The personal representative of a deceased person shall be under a duty to—
(a) collect and get in the real and personal estate of the deceased and administer it according to law;
(b) when required to do so by the court, exhibit on oath in the court a full inventory of the estate and when so required render an account of the administration of the estate to the court;
(c) when required to do so by the High Court, deliver up the grant of probate or administration to that court.
What amounts to a breach of duty by an executor?
Even if you think an executor is not conducting himself or herself as you would if you were the executor, that doesn’t mean there is anything legally wrong with what they are doing. Executors are entitled to exercise their discretion, as long as they are ultimately acting in the best interests of the estate.
Where an executor breaches their duties, by failing to communicate with beneficiaries or withholding inheritance monies, then legal action can be taken against them. This includes making an application to have them removed as executor.
Where an executor has used estate funds for their own benefit or transferred assets to themselves then this known as misappropriation of estate/trust property. Legal action can be taken in the civil courts for the executor to account to the estate for the missing money. Additionally, theft is a criminal act and the executor can be prosecuted.
How we can help
We specialise in executor disputes, dealing with cases nationwide. You should act quickly if you believe that an executor has stolen money from an estate so that immediate action can be taken to safeguard remaining estate assets and recover assets that have been lost. Contact our free legal helpline on 0333 888 0404 for initial guidance or send an email to [email protected]