Complicated executorship

I am dealing with an estate where the deceased left four properties divided between her grandson, his wife, and her granddaughter. The grandson and his wife separated acrimoniously some years after the Will was made, by which time the deceased had lost capacity. The deceased died over two years ago, soon after the separation.

The grandson and the granddaughter are executors of the Will. The grandson and his wife are now locked in an extremely acrimonious divorce, the stress of which has led to the grandson suffering a stroke. He now no longer wishes to play an active role in the administration of the estate. I have advised him that he cannot renounce, as he has intermeddled in the estate (although having said that, virtually nothing has happened, and the application for probate is still to be made). He wishes to have power reserved to him, and says that his sister agrees to take out the grant on her own.

However, the granddaughter has instructed her own solicitors in an I(PFD)A 1975 claim, although this appears to have ground to a standstill.

The estate is taxable, which means that interest and penalties are racking up but, despite repeated warnings to the parties about this, none of them appears to be actually addressing the fact that IHT is payable. There is very little in the estate other than the properties.

My main concern is to try to get the ball rolling with respect to obtaining the grant, but I am effectively without instructions and I don’t know what to advise if I am asked for advice. The granddaughter cannot apply for the grant if she is making a claim against the estate, and the grandson is too concerned for his health to proceed. Is there any way of getting around this?

Any thoughts/advice most gratefully received!

Susan England
Robinson Allfree

If the granddaughter is seeking to make a 1975 claim against the estate,
she cannot be the sole proving executor.

As the granddaughter has instructed her own solicitors in her claim,
this could free your firm to act as administrator of the estate, with
the agreement of the grandson and granddaughter. Whilst the grandson’s
wife might object, until or unless there is any progress in the
administration of the estate her entitlement, like that of the others,
has no real benefit.

It may be the Probate Registrar will need to exercise discretion to
enable your firm, or nominees thereof, to apply for a grant, as you
would not sensibly want to obtain an attorney grant, as that would
create a conflict for the firm.

Paul Saunders