To Renounce or not to renounce, that is the question
A recent case brought before the England and Wales High Court (EWHC) case of WAG Davidson & Co has opened the age old question of whether a professional should renounce if asked by their co-executor or beneficiaries. In the case, the deceased left her property to her grandson and the residue to her daughter. The WAG Davidson Solicitors were appointed as Executors however the deceased’s daughter requested the firm to step down as she felt that the estate was simple enough to administer herself. WAG Davidson refused, the daughter went to court to request that the firm be removed as Executors.
The litigation took two years, with the solicitor appealing twice. Legal fees equated to £25,000 in legal fees, excessive since the residue of the estate was £832,000.
The case is a reminder to professional executors when asked to renounce. The situation should be approached with care. Julie Man TEP of solicitors Russell Cooke states ’It is not unusual for a professional executor to be asked to renounce their executorship [and] genuine consideration needs be given as to whether a professional executor should act, putting aside any financial gain’, she says. ’You are not legally obliged to renounce, but you should ensure that you can illustrate that you have taken appropriate steps to show that you have fully considered whether it is appropriate to act.’
The key consideration in the WAG Davidson case, however, was the constitution and complexity of the estate. ’If an estate is small or straightforward, it might not be appropriate for you to insist on acting’, says Man. ’To pursue the administration in the face of clear disapproval from the beneficiaries can harm your relationships with them and result in significant PR damage for [the] firm.’ At Assured Probate Services, we will also discuss the case with the person who has requested us to renounce, we will also consult with the associate, who took the original instruction to establish why the Testator/rix appointed us to act. We also have a section in the Will instruction so that the Testator/rix can state whether they would like us to renounce or not if asked. For further information regarding our services, please contact the probate team.
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This message was added on Friday 29th October 2021