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What can you do when an executor refuses to release funds

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  • What can you do when an executor refuses to release funds

    My mother in law is still waiting to receive her inheritance 2 years after probate etc from her mother as one of the executors (her sister) is refusing to release the funds, her reason being she is not ready to let her siblings waste mummy and daddies money (her words), they are all in the 60s btw!

    There are 2 executors (the sister and her brother). My mother in law and a younger sister are named as beneficiaries. We are talking about a share on £800,000-£900,000 split equally between the 4 so a life changing amount.

    The sister keeps saying she will release the funds but then becomes uncountable, my MOL and the other 2 siblings have no idea where she lives and she stops answering the phone/email.
    The sister promised to release the funds at the end of March 2019 but then refused when my MOL said she needed some of her share to complete a house purchase near to us, the sister said she should not have spent money she didnít have in a very patronising email.

    My poor MOL is just so upset and heartbroken that her sister is just being from what we can see cruel and power crazed. The other executor (the brother) says that nothing can be done as they both have to agree to funds being released and do joint signing.

    MOL asked a solicitor what she could do and they said they would send a letter costing her £500 but didnít actually say if anything could be done so it seems like a money making letter rather than helpful.

    Any advice would be welcome, my MOL is not rich and on a small pension, it just seems so unfair.

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  • #2
    The court can, and will, act if an executor is acting unreasonably. Although you can bring such an action as a litigant in person, it would be rather difficult for an inexperienced person to do. So, shop around and get a few quotes from different solicitors. You want an estimate for the cost for bringing this to court, not just for a letter. I would guess around £5k, but you may find a firm that will defer the fee until the case has been concluded.

    In in the circumstances you have described of wilful neglect by the executor, costs may be awarded against her.

    the obvious first step for the solicitor is to write a really stiff letter. Whilst that's not guaranteed to work, it often does, and it obviously is not as expensive as going to court.


    • #3
      What you need, by the way, is a Section 50 application to replace the executor. This is an application to the High Court, and most people would appoint a solicitor to deal with it.

      As there is one executor in place who is acting correctly it may be enough just to ask the court to remove his sister, leaving him to distribute the money.


      • #4
        Hi 2222, thanks for your super fast reply, this is really helpful and I'll pass on to my MOL :-)


        • #5
          Replacing an executor is not that easy.
          As a first step I would be writing to the executor requesting payment within 14 days, and warning her that if it is not forthcoming your MiL will be making application to the court requesting an inventory and account from the executor.
          Cheaper and quicker, and often the thought of having to account for their handling of the estate in court makes them smell the coffee!


          • #6
            Thanks Des8, I'll pass this on as we had thought another email (none of the siblings has her address, she moved and wouldn't tell them) stating what you say might sort it, however I am not hopeful


            • #7
              Hi Tuesday,
              It may be worth while instructing a tracing agent to locate the executor (not someone to serve any papers just to provide an address), then you can ensure any recorded delivery correspondence gets to her known address? Just another thought for delivering an ultimatum. If they are emailing you can set up to request a receipt upon opening?
              I am a qualified solicitor and am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

              Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

              If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.


              • #8
                There is a website that permits you to get an acknowledgment that an email has been opened without the recipient being aware, indeed it flags ever open. Not on my usual computer so can't give details at the moment


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