Court Refuses To Remove Executors Even Though Value Of Estate Reduced

Date Added 27.08.14

Jimmy Savile’s beneficiaries tried to remove his executors on grounds they were giving in too easily to those making claims against his estate following allegations of abuse. Their grounds were:

  • the executors were not acting in the best interests of the beneficiaries;
  • the beneficiary/executor relationship had broken down.

The executors asked the court to approve their scheme for compensating those claiming abuse, and their expenses. The court ruled that the executors could not be removed as:

  • ‘friction’ between executors and beneficiaries did not justify removal;>
  • as there was a particular risk the estate could be insolvent, the court had to be particularly cautious.

It also ruled that the scheme appeared ‘sensible’ and ‘pragmatic’, and the court therefore approved it and the executors’ expenses.

Recommendations

  • Beneficiaries unhappy with executors should first ask for an account showing progress to date, which can then be discussed, and the executor may agree to stand down.
  • If they can show serious misconduct, they may be able to apply to the court to remove an executor – for example, if they have wrongly allowed the value of the estate to fall, or have stolen from it.
  • Disputes of this sort are infrequent and can be complex, so take specialist legal advice if in doubt.

Case ref: National Westminster Bank plc v Lucas and others Re Estate of Jimmy Savile (deceased) [2014] EWHC 653 (Ch)

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