Executor Disputes

Contact the team today on freephone 0800 0931336, or email willdisputes@ashfords.co.uk.

Helping to manage executor disputes where there are issues around the Executor’s ability to effectively manage the estate and probate.

Disputes can arise between executors and beneficiaries regarding the administration of the estate, and sometimes this can be due to the executor failing to comply with their legal obligations.

What can you do when an executor is causing a delay to the estate administration?

Probate can be a complicated and time-consuming process. In some circumstances however, the delay may be caused by the executor being too slow or failing to take any action altogether. There is no liability in negligence for delay in getting a Grant of Probate so what can you do if the executor is taking too long?


Where named executors refuse to take steps to obtain a grant but will also not renounce their rights, it is possible to force their hand by using the citation process. A citation can force the person who has the right to obtain a Grant of Probate to take action in order to make progress in the administration of a deceased person’s estate or lose their right to act.

A citation is a notice in writing issued by a district judge or probate registrar. The citation calls upon the respondent to enter an appearance and to take specified steps failing which the court will grant representation to the applicant or another person specified.

Before applying for a citation, you first need to consider whether, if the person entitled to the Grant were to renounce, would you be entitled instead? If you are a beneficiary or a creditor the answer could be yes. In that case, where the executor fails to take out the Grant but will not renounce their rights, it may be possible to force progress by seeking a citation from the Probate Registry ordering the executor to take action or lose their right to act.

Which citation is appropriate depends upon what steps (if any) have already been taken to date.

It may not be appropriate to issue a citation if the applicant does not want the executor to act - there may be good reasons for suspecting that the executor may continue to delay the administration or may cause loss to the estate. In such circumstances, it may be more appropriate to apply to remove the executor altogether.

Removing an executor

Issues often arise in the administration of an estate relating to the suitability and performance (or lack of) of the executor. In such cases, the parties may wish to consider the removal of the executor to allow for the effective administration of the deceased's estate.

An executor can renounce before they have accepted the role, but once they have commenced the estate administration, a court order will usually be required for their removal as they will have intermeddled.

On what grounds can an executor be removed?

If the executor does not agree to stand down, you can apply to the court to remove them.  The court’s overriding considerations are the welfare of the beneficiaries and whether the estate is being properly administered. The court, however, will not remove an executor unless it can be shown that there is some fact or circumstance that is genuinely impeding the administration of the estate.

For example, the court may remove an executor if:

  • The executor has failed to administer the estate correctly;
  • The executor has carried out serious misconduct (for example stealing funds from the estate);
  • The executor is unfit or unable to act (for example, they have been convicted of a crime or they are mentally or physically unable to carry out the estate administration); or
  • The executor has a conflict of interest (for example the executor has a claim against the estate).

Applications to remove an executor can be protracted, and legal costs of a contested matter can run to many tens of thousands of pounds.  If you are considering applying to remove an executor, or find yourself facing such an application, we recommend that you obtain legal advice as soon as possible.

Dealing with problem executors


Get in touch

Whether you need to dispute a will or defend your inheritance, our expert team will work with you to achieve the best result. Contact us on freephone 0800 0931336, by email at willdisputes@ashfords.co.uk or via the contact button below for a no obligation chat and to see how we can help.

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