Becoming an executor of a Will, be it for a friend or a family member, is a responsibility both in a moral sense and a legal one. The following case demonstrates this when an executor did not distribute a £240,000 woman’s estate as the Will directed, and was jailed as a result.
The woman’s Will split her estate 50/50 between two people. The partner of one was nominated as the executor even though he had no legal knowledge. Her home was sold and the funds were paid into his bank account, which represented the majority of the estate’s assets.
The man did not split the money between his partner and the other friend who was to benefit, and when the money had been spent on cars, debts and day to day living expenses and there was only £10,000 left a judge appointed someone else as executor as the other beneficiary had complained.
The court ordered him to show bank statements and other financial documents, alternatively he could pay the other beneficiary the money due to her. He refused to supply the required information so the judge jailed him for six months. There was no way of knowing whether he solely spent the money but as executor he was legally liable and responsible for dispersing the estate as directed. His failure was a breach of trust and a dereliction of duty as an executor.
The lesson here is to be very careful who you trust, when it comes to money seek professional help from a solicitor, to ensure your Will is adhered to as you wish.
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