Poor administration a factor in contesting wills

Published 30 Jul 2014

While many people assume that contesting wills cases are primarily related to disagreeing with the contents of the will itself, disputes can arise even when all parties are happy with their claim on the estate.

This is because the reading and agreeing on the will is not the final chapter in disrupting assets. In fact, a will is considered simply a list of instructions, which cannot be carried out without an overseer.

The responsibility for distributing someone’s estate falls onto the shoulders of the executor, otherwise known as the administrator. This person, usually named in the will, is tasked with carrying out the wishes of the deceased in regards to their estate.

Typical duties required of the executor include arranging and paying for the funeral, gathering the assets together and taking care of any estate debts. Once the costs have been taken care of – including the expense of the funeral and defending the will against any family provision claims, the executor should then distribute the estate as per the deceased’s wishes.

However, in some cases the executor is unable or unwilling to follow the instructions of the will. This is when the beneficiaries or other stakeholders can contact a contesting wills lawyer to dispute the actions of the administrator.

An example of this would be if the executor claims a significant amount from the estate for expenses, resulting in beneficiaries receiving less than they expected. If the executor could not prove the costs were to the level they had claimed, the Courts will likely rule that the executor has to pay the funds back into the estate and distribute them more fairly.

In other cases, executors may decide they disagree with the bequeathments made in the deceased’s will and choose not to carry out their wishes. Unfortunately, this is the wrong way to dispute a will, even if there is a good reason behind the decision.

For instance, if an executor believed the deceased did not hold the mental capacity to construct the will, they should contact a contesting wills lawyer to dispute the document through official channels. By doing this, the administrator can avoid unnecessary expenses when the intended benefactors lodge complaints against their actions.

If you need more information about the duties and responsibilities of an executor, or would like to contest the actions of an administrator, speak to a contesting wills lawyer today.

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