Claims for mishandling estates have more than tripled in 2013, according to figures released by the High Court.

It is believed that the rise is due to the increased reliance on acquaintances or family members as DIY executors. Using a friend or acquaintance can be a false economy. Many families are following this path in an attempt to save money but finding it costs them more than they bargained for when they have to use the courts to recover assets after a mistake, or even theft, by the DIY executor.

Amateur executors may not want the money of the deceased to go outside their immediate family and so take matters into their own hands distributing the assets as they see fit, even if that means they are acting contrary to their responsibilities as a legal executor. The Chairman of the Law Society’s Wills and Equity Committee, Richard Roberts, said the risk of mismanagement increases as more people take out probate themselves without professional help.

He said “Many wrongly perceive the task to be simpler than it is…. there will always be lay executors who can do the job well and are perfectly trustworthy, but there will always be groups of executors who either administer an estate badly through ignorance or administer it fraudulently”.

We recommend you always consult a solicitor before taking on the administration of an estate of someone who has died or apply for probate in person. Please contact any of our Wills and Probate solicitors for further information or advice.


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