Executors role in contentious probate


(Sedelstyn) #1

I have been passed a probate file which has become contentious. The (distant) family of the deceased were not included within her Will (she left most of estate to charity) and so they entered a caveat and we received a Larke v Nugus letter. We replied and entered a warning. They then entered an appearance together with another letter which doesn’t really progress any further. As the partners of the firm are the executors I assume that we can obtain Counsels opinion on the merits at the expense of the estate? Would we be obliged to disclose any advice received to both parties and also what would we do then? As we are supposed to remain nuetral which party should progress matters further. The Caveator has taken no steps to bring a claim since the appearance was entered. I was hoping that in the event that Counsel’s opinion is favourable we should just ask the caveator to agree to withdraw and if they refuse ask the other party to take the matter further? A few pointers would be appreciated.


(Antonio) #2

Hi, is there any possibility to mediate as they are merely Family, it sometimes bring the family together in the end with a win win for all…just a thought.


(Joanna Caen) #3

Hi there
I was looking at the forum and came across this question. Would be interested to know how you resolved the issue.
Regards
Joanna


(Sedelstyn) #4

Hi there,

I contacted the charities and they took control of the dispute. The firm was advised to sit back and wait until it was concluded. Things have dragged since then and we are still waiting for matters to be resolved as


(Alexander Learmonth) #5

Hello.
Executors should remain essentially neutral in a probate dispute. They are entitled to start proceedings to find out the answer, but after that leave it to the rival beneficiaries to fight it out between themselves, and it is safer to leave it to the beneficiaries to progress matters if possible.
Sometimes, if the supposed challenge seems fairly spurious and has not been pursued, you can apply to the Probate Registry for an order that unless the caveator brings a probate claim within a certain period of time, then the caveat will be discontinued. I have seen a few registrars take that approach recently. But again it would be safer to let the other set of beneficiaries make the running.
If the executors spend estate money taking an opinion, then no privilege will attach to that opinion, as against the beneficiaries.
I hope that is helpful.