Siblings apply for brother’s removal as executor to mother’s will

Published 02 Jan 2015

Three siblings have applied for an order revoking their brother’s role as executor to their mother’s will after he allegedly ignored multiple attempts to resolve issues relating to the estate.

The plaintiffs, two sisters and a brother, accused their other brother – the defendant – of failing to perform the duties expected of him as an executor. His delay in selling a large property located at Withers Road, Rouse Hill, is the primary issue in the inheritance dispute.

According to court documents, the defendant is living at the dwelling, which was supposed to be sold following the death of his mother in 2003. The will said the money from the sale should be distributed equally to the four siblings.

A separate house in Eastwood was sold in 2007, although the defendant claimed the Rouse Hill property was a more complex transaction that required additional time.

He and one of his sisters were named as executors, but the will specifically appointed the defendant as the executive officer of the property. As such, the mother said final decisions regarding its future were at the brother’s sole discretion.

However, his siblings decided to take the matter to court after the defendant failed to respond to text messages, letters and phone calls requesting the sale of the property.

Judge rules on inheritance dispute

The court heard that significant effort was made to contact the brother regarding the estate, particularly since 2012. While the property is now being advertised for sale, the siblings are concerned the asking price is too high.

The defendant’s sister, despite also being executor, was unable to lower the price without the permission of her brother. She also worried that agreeing to any offers would require both of their signatures.

Justice Rowan Darke said the decision to remove an individual as executor should not be taken lightly, but ruled the defendant had neglected his duties in light of the evidence.

“I consider that the defendant’s conduct in essentially eschewing engagement, not only with the other beneficiaries including the first and third plaintiffs, but also his co-executor … demonstrate that … the defendant is not a fit and proper person to continue to hold the office of executor of this estate,” he explained.

As such, Justice Darke made an order revoking grant of probate and appointed the plaintiffs as the estate’s administrators. The cost of legal proceedings were taken from the defendant’s portion of the estate.

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