Barry Morris died on 2 February 2018 leaving the residue of his estate equally between his five children: Alan, Sharon, Roger, Kim and Karl.
In 2014, Barry’s brother, who resided in Australia, died intestate. This meant Barry became entitled to approximately £300,000 from the estate. However, at the time, Barry was suffering from dementia and so he allegedly asked his son, Roger, to help administer his brother’s estate. In August 2014, Roger travelled to Australia for two weeks to do so. His expenses for that trip totalled £2,836.48.
On 11 January 2016, Barry then executed a Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’) in respect of his property and affairs, appointing Alan as an attorney. Alan was completely estranged from his siblings and they were not aware of the LPA being made. When Roger found out, he applied to the Court of Protection to revoke the LPA in favour of an independent deputy being appointed. The cost of these proceedings totalled £99,568.02 and, as a result, the LPA was revoked and a solicitor appointed as a deputy to manage Barry’s affairs. The Court also gave the solicitor authority to reimburse Roger for the expenses he had incurred in travelling to Australia. However, Barry died before the reimbursement of Roger’s expenses was finalised.
On Barry’s death, Alan and Sharon were appointed as executors of their father’s estate. Alan, now in control of Barry’s estate as an executor, strongly opposed and refused to agree to reimburse Roger. As a result, the other children argued that Alan should be removed as an executor. Sharon sought the intervention of the Court to remove Alan from his position as an executor and stated that she was willing to step down as an executor also if Alan was removed.
The Court found that Alan’s conduct in relation to the expenses claim and hostility towards his siblings indicated that the proper and effective administration of his father’s estate was threatened by him continuing to be an executor. The breakdown of relations between the two executors made the task of administering the estate impossible. The Court therefore removed Alan and Sharon as executors and appointed an independent personal representative to conclude the administration of the estate.
This case highlights the importance of ensuring appropriate executors are appointed, particularly where family members do not get on. The appointment of independent executors can be extremely beneficial and help to avoid unnecessary costs, stress and delay. For more information on this article, or advice on appointing executors in your own Will, please contact Hauke Harrack on 01604 463131 and Chloe Harbutt on 01223 532721.
Hudman v Morris  EWHC 1400 (Ch)