This highlights the reality of what can happen when you choose to prepare you own Will rather than instruct Solicitors and take the appropriate advice. If a claim is made the costs involved will be significantly more than the costs of preparing a Will. It is important to take appropriate legal advice when preparing a Will, and then when the estate needs to be administered.
An Executor (Personal Representative) can be held personally liable if they do not distribute the estate in line with the Will (or intestacy rules), and for any loss resulting from a breach of duty, even if a mistake is made in good faith. It is an important job and therefore who you choose to undertake the role should be considered carefully. You must trust those who you wish to appoint, and be confident that they will be able to carry out their duties.
If you are appointed as an Executor you should consider taking the appropriate legal advice to ensure that your position is protected, where possible, and to ensure you do not leave yourself open to a claim for mishandling the estate.
Claims for mishandling a deceased’s estate have more than tripled over the last year, according to figures released by the High Court. Data from the Chancery Division shows there were 368 claims lodged for breach of fiduciary duty in 2013, up from 107 on the previous 12 months. The claims range from theft of assets by the executor to fraudulent distribution of assets to favour certain beneficiaries of the will above others.