This was an application to remove Mr Ian Rigby (Ian) as administrator of the estate of Sybil Rigby. Sybil Rigby died on 30 November 2011, leaving two adult children, Ian Rigby and Janice Wilby (Janice). By her will dated 8 February 2001 Sybil Rigby appointed Janice and Ian to be her executors and trustees and gave the residue of the estate to Ian and Janice in equal shares. The value of the net estate was £271,134. The estate contained Sybil Rigby’s home (the property), which represented more than half the value in the estate
Janice initially agreed that Ian could administer the estate. However, he failed to respond to correspondence from Janice’s solicitors. In May 2012, Janice’s solicitors lodged a caveat, despite there being no challenge to the validity of the will. The caveat prevented a private sale of the property to Carl Abbott (the grandson of Ian’s partner, Ronnie Abbott). However, Carl Abbott moved into the property. He paid the council tax on the property and maintained it.
Ian resisted solicitors’ involvement in the administration of the estate on the basis that Sybil Rigby had stated that she did not want solicitors involved, and did not want to see solicitors’ costs fall on the beneficiaries. Attempts to progress the administration of the estate were unsuccessful. Nothing was achieved during the course of 2013, and caveats remained in place at all material times, preventing Ian from obtaining a grant of probate.
From 18 February 2014 onwards, Janice’s solicitors were recommending the appointment of an independent administrator. Suggestions that an independent administrator be appointed were not responded to and ultimately an application was made to remove Ian under s50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985. Janice also applied for an order for Ian to account to the estate for a sum representing the market rent properly obtainable for the property for the period in which it has been occupied by Carl Abbott.
- 1) There had been a complete breakdown of trust and confidence between the two appointed executors, evidenced by the three year delay in the administration of the estate. It was therefore appropriate to remove both Ian and Janice as executors of the will. It would be appropriate to appoint Ronnie Abbott and Daniel Wilby as joint executors, provided Janice and Ian agreed. Otherwise, an independent solicitor should be appointed. The appointment could be made on application to the CEO of the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners (STEP).
2) In all the circumstances, it was proper for Ian to allow Carl Abbott to occupy the property rent free but putting the property in a more habitable state. This permitted Carl Abbott a rent-free period until October 2012. He was liable to pay an occupational rent from the beginning of November 2012. An appropriate rent would be £750 per calendar month. Ian’s share in the estate should be charged on the basis of a monthly rental liability beginning November 2012 at the rate of £750 per calendar month.