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tel.01642 493101

Acklam Hall, Hall Drive, Middlesbrough TS5 7DY

What happens if an executor ignores their duties?

The Society for Trust & State Practitioners (STEP) have highlighted a recent case where an executor faces 3 months in jail for ignoring their duties and failing to act.

The Court has ordered the sentence, citing that the defendant deliberately ignored a court order requiring them to fulfil their duties as the deceased’s sole executor, and distribute the estate to two other beneficiaries.

The executor sold the deceased’s house in April 2020, but failed to give the other beneficiaries their share of the estate. The court has however suspended the execution of the committal order until 10 October 2022 to allow the executor a short period of grace to comply.

What this highlights is the importance and legal responsibility of carrying out your duties as an executor.

What happens if an executor does not respond?

The executor’s duty is to work in the best interests of the estate and the beneficiaries. If an executor does not follow this directive, they can be held personally liable for their mistakes, which often entails a substantial financial claim against them.

The most effective way to ensure an executor carries out their duties is to give them a citation. If the executor ignores the citation, they lose their entitlement to act as executor, and the executor can then pass to the next in line.

What is a citation?

A citation is a notice calling on someone to carry out a specific act. If a beneficiary believes that the executor is delaying work on the distribution of the estate, they can hand a citation to the executor. There are three main types of citation;

  • Citation to accept or refuse a grant
  • Citation to take probate
  • Citation to propound a Will

Can an executor be removed?

The answer is yes, usually through negotiation with a legal expert. If this fails to conclude a satisfactory outcome, the case can be taken to court and the executor removed from their duties.

This is actioned if the executor has started administering the estate but you are either not happy with their progress, or you do not believe that they have been acting in the best interests of the beneficiaries.

If you are based in Teeside, Middlesbrough or the surrounding areas including Acklam, Ingleby Barwick or Stockton, and would like to learn more about ensuring that your will includes the executors that will do the right thing by you and your beneficiaries, please contact us on 01642 493101 or email Please also view our dedicated page on Wills here.