I would be grateful for views on the following situation:
A beneficiary is entitled to a legacy of approximately £100,000 from her mother’s Will. The beneficiary is also one of three executors, the other two being professional executors (a solicitor and an accountant).
The mother died over two years ago, but probate was only obtained in November last year.
The beneficiary is desperate for the money, having entered into various financial commitments in expectation of receiving payment. However, the other two executors are refusing to pay, saying that there may be a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. They have therefore said that they need to wait a total of 10 months from the date of the grant, that being the six months period for bringing a claim plus 4 months for serving the claim form.
This means that the beneficiary will not receive payment until September, by which time she is likely to have suffered debt enforcement action.
There is no known or suspected claimant, and the estate is worth around £2.5m net of tax. The beneficiary is also a residuary beneficiary.
My provisional view is that the trustees are acting completely unreasonably, but I’m not sure what action could be taken to have the legacy paid. A County Court claim would take too long - by the time it got anywhere it would probably be September anyway - and I’m not sure whether a court would grant a mandatory injunction against the executors in such a case.
However, it occurred to me that a different approach might work. As the default position is that the legacy should be paid within a year from the date of death, any decision not to comply with this rule appears to me to be a positive decision by the trustees. And as trustees must generally act unanimously (there’s nothing in the Will allowing them to act by majority) I can’t see that a decision by two of the three trustees not to pay the legacy is legally sustainable.
TIA for any contributions.