The High Court has ordered the removal of an Executor of an Estate after the Executor failed to fulfil the deceased’s wishes and attempted to benefit unfairly from the estate.

This dispute arose between two Executors of an Estate. One Executor is the son of the deceased, who lived rent free in the house before and after the deceased’s passing. The other Executor is the daughter of the deceased.

There was disagreement about how the assets of the Estate should be divided. The son wanted to purchase the family home from the Estate, for a price below market value. The daughter wanted to sell the house on the market, and divide the proceeds between the beneficiaries of the Estate.

The Court ordered the removal of the son as Executor, as he was attempting to pay a lower price than market value for the property, which would have financially disadvantaged the other beneficiaries of the Estate.

As well as this, he was living rent free at a property that otherwise would have brought in rental income for the beneficiaries.

Both of these factors showed that he was failing in his administrative duties to provide maximum benefit to the beneficiaries as well as self-benefitting to the exclusion of the deceased’s wishes.

The Court also decided that the house should be sold on the open market, as this was deemed to be the best way to determine how much the house was actually worth. There was nothing to stop the son from purchasing the house on the open market.

Finally, the Court ordered the son to vacate the house, as upon his mother’s passing he no longer possessed a legal right to live on the property.

If the son possessed a better understanding of his role as the Executor of his mother’s Estate, he could have performed this role more effectively. This could have allowed him to remain on as an Executor of the Estate, and costly and time consuming proceedings could have been avoided.

If there is confusion regarding the proper handling of the affairs of an estate or distribution of assets under a Will, it is wise to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area


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Shaun Cousins