It can be difficult to deal with family members who tend to take control when a loved-one dies. Alternatively, you may wish to remove the burden from a family member who you believe could not administer the deceased’s estate.
However, any person looking to administer the estate should be careful, particularly where the person is not named as an executor in the deceased’s will. Otherwise, they could be found to be intermeddling in an estate which has significant adverse consequences.
What is intermeddling?
Intermeddling in an estate is described as performing some, or all, of the duties that a personal representative would have been obliged to perform if they were administering the estate.
What are the consequences for intermeddling?
The courts can order that the person acting as the personal representative (“the intermeddler”) is personally liable to the estate for any loss they may have caused themselves, and may need to pay inheritance tax (should there be any) on any assets they have dealt with.
The intermeddler must also continue to be a personal representative until the administration of the estate is complete.
What actions would mean I have intermeddled?
Fortunately, you can assist with some duties when a personal representative administering an estate without being an intermeddler. We have outlined some of the duties which would constitute as intermeddling in an estate. The list of duties below is not exhaustive and we would urge anyone to get in touch with us to advise you on whether the duty you, or another person is intending to perform.
- Collecting the deceased’s debts and issuing receipts;
- Settling the deceased’s debts;
- Continue operating the deceased’s business;
- Selling assets of the deceased; and
- Disposing the deceased’s assets.
To conclude, any person looking to assist a personal representative in the administration of estate must take care not to make themselves liable to the deceased’s estate.
Our contentious probate team specialises in all aspects of contentious probate and is consistently ranked in the top tier of The Legal 500. The team is headed up by Robert Weston, who is listed in The Legal 500 as a “leading individual” and was the instructing solicitor for the successful party in the landmark judgment of Walker v Badmin. Robert, together with Suzanne Lee and Andrew Chandler are all full members of The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) and represent clients both nationwide and abroad in both bringing and defending claims.
If you have a contentious probate matter which you would like to discuss with a specialist solicitor with a view to instructing mfg Solicitors LLP, please visit https://www.mfgsolicitors.com/site/services-for-me/contentious-probate/ for further information and contact details.