One of the most important decisions you can make, apart from making sure you have a Will, is who you are going to appoint as executors. A wrong decision can result in significant time delays in the management of your estate and sizeable legal costs to all involved – in particular your estate and ultimately your beneficiaries.
The recent case of Dore v Cairns  QSC 238 deals with what can go wrong when executors don’t agree and what the court will do in those situations.
In this case there were long delays in the management of the estate. The testator had died in 2015 and 7 years later the estate had yet to be finalised despite there being a valid will and duly appointed executors.
The deceased’s will appointed her friend, Mr Cairns, and her nephew, Mr Dore, as executors with another friend, Mr Hope, nominated as backup executor. Evidence before the court showed that Mr Cairns and Mr Dore were unable to work together with all communication between them breaking down.
The matter was brought to a head by Mr Dore who made an application to the court to remove both executors. The court was satisfied that it was appropriate to remove both executors so that the estate could be administered and finalised. As there was a backup executor (Mr Hope) the court sought further submissions from both executors on whether Mr Hope should be appointed as executor, or whether an independent person be appointed. The court’s position was that if Mr Hope was not willing to act as executor then an independent administrator would be appointed.
The lessons to take away from this case is that you should carefully consider who you want to appoint as executors. Appointing people who do not get on with each other is a recipe for disaster and will cost your estate and beneficiaries in unnecessary delays and significant legal fees. Executors should be able to work together. Executors are commonly appointed from within the family, however, if no one is suitable then you should consider appointing an independent third party whom you have confidence in.
If this article raises questions for you in relation to your will and the suitability of your executors then you need advice from an experienced Toowoomba estate lawyer. Please call our Sandra or Chloe on 07 4632 8484 to make an appointment today.
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