It can be very frustrating for a beneficiary if the executor appears to be ignoring his obligations. The estate must be properly administered before assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries. This can be a time-consuming process in itself. But frustration levels must be heightened if the executor doesn’t appear willing to even start this process.
Litigation with a view to removing the executor is possible, but this can be time-consuming in its own right and may often prove to be very expensive. Many beneficiaries look for a cheaper option to try to speed-up receipt of their own entitlement.
The Non Contentious Probate Rules provide a possible solution the form of a “Citation”.
A Citation may be used to try to achieve one of 3 things – to make the executor confirm that he will accept, or alternatively refuse, a grant of probate, or to obtain a Grant of probate, or to prove that a Will is valid.
Citation to accept a grant and Citations to obtain a grant.
If an Executor receives either a citation to accept a grant or a citation to obtain a Grant, and either fails to respond or else elects to refuse the Grant, then the beneficiary who issued the citation may obtain a Grant of probate for himself, and administer the estate himself. This will have the effect of removing any further delay.
Citation to propound a will.
If an executor receives a citation to propound will (i.e. to prove that the Will is valid), and fails to respond or else refuses the request, then the beneficiary who issued the citation may apply to obtain a Grant for himself in circumstances where he may treat the will itself as being invalid.
Whichever option is selected, it is crucial to take independent legal advice. The rules impose technicalities that must be complied with in order for the citation to achieve its desired result. Forms must be filled in, affidavits may need to be sworn, copies of documents may need to be provided, et cetera. Contact us for advice – it is crucial that you do not make a mistake in this regard.