Q&A Should executors do what beneficiaries of an estate tell them to do?

Q:      I am one of the beneficiaries of an estate where a firm of solicitors are appointed as executors. I am the liaison between the other beneficiaries and the executors. I have instructed the executors to release funds from the estate to us, but they have advised they cannot access the funds until they have probate. Why can I not have the funds now and are the executors meant to do what I tell them to do?

A:       Often executors will have their hands tied when it comes to distribution of assets. It seems in the case above that the executors have not yet obtained grant of probate and without the same they are unable to collect in all the funds from the estate, especially if the sums of money in accounts are large and, in particular, if the estate is tied up in property or shares and stocks.

The executors will of course liaise with beneficiaries as a courtesy to keep them updated, but they may be reluctant to ‘over communicate’ if it means that the charges to the estate relating to such communication is unreasonable or disproportionate to the size of the estate.

Not all beneficiaries understand the process or anticipate the possible delays that can be caused in applying for probate and winding up the estate, especially if they have not previously benefitted from an estate or been appointed executor.

Executors don’t strictly take instruct from beneficiaries, but do have a duty towards them. Sometimes chasing executors can be more of a hindrance than help, particularly in terms of costs, therefore it may be a good idea to ask the executors to convey updates to you when any meaningful progress is made, or if practicable and cost effective they could provide updates on a monthly or quarterly basis.

This question has been answered by Ulia Choudhry a Solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients.  Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194 

Ulia Choudhry

Ulia Choudhry


Ulia is a Partner who specialises in Probate, Wills, Trusts and Tax and is based in Wrexham