Following new figures showing claims for mishandling a deceased’s estate more than tripled in the last year people are being advised to choose Executors of Wills carefully.

There were 368 claims against Executors in 2013, an increase of 107 on the previous 12 months, says the High Court. The claims related to executors not performing their legal duties correctly – ranging from theft of assets to the fraudulent distribution of assets to favour beneficiaries of a will above others.

These claims delay the administration of an estate and can diminish the assets of an estate as money is spent on legal and court fees. They can occasionally result in previously good family relationships breaking down.

The administration of an estate can be a more complex task than Executors realise,
and many are not aware that they can incur personal financial liability if they get something wrong.

Families choosing to use other family members or friends as executors of Wills rather than instructing solicitors could be a likely cause for the increase in claims.

When dealing with an estate a solicitor will advise on taxation issues, the protection available for executors against unknown liabilities and in relation to claims against the estate from disappointed parties. They will also ensure the correct distribution of the estate in accordance with the terms of the will or, if there is no will, under the Intestacy Rules.

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