When you’re making your Will, your children will often expect to be named as your executors – the people responsible for putting your Will into effect after you die. But if your children don’t get on with each other you need to think hard before you do, because a falling out can create upset and significant expense.
So if, for example, your children argue about everything, don’t speak to each other if they can help it or one is always trying to boss the others about, it’s sensible to think about appointing other people as executors instead.
This can be a particular problem with assets that have sentimental value, such as the family home, paintings or jewellery, or that involve ongoing maintenance, such as a holiday home.
And disputes don’t just crop up about money. In a particularly upsetting case a father appointed his two daughters as his executors. When he died the older daughter arranged for him to be buried – in a respectful and dignified ceremony – in his back garden. She didn’t discuss this with her younger sister first, or even tell her where the actual burial plot was.
The younger daughter objected, and the two of them fell out with each other in a very big way. Eventually – and you can imagine how upsetting the whole thing must have been for both of them – they agreed that their father should be exhumed, and reburied next to their mother, in the graveyard where she had been laid to rest.
Things having got off to a bad start, they then argued about the rest of their father’s Will too – particularly about what to do with the family home. Eventually, the youngest daughter went to court to get her older sister
removed as an executor, alleging ‘misconduct’.
The court decided that there was such bad feeling between them that it would remove both of them as executors, and replace them with two independent and experienced lawyers. Which, with hindsight, is maybe what the Will-maker should have done in the first place.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.