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Sibling executors removed by judge after falling out over mother’s Will

A brother and sister who could not agree on how to administer their mother’s Will have been removed as executors by a High Court judge who said taking them both “out of the equation” was the best option.

Sybil Rigby, who had a “thing about solicitors” and drew up her own DIY Will before her death at the age of 86 in 2011, had divided her £300,000 assets equally between her daughter, Janice Wilby, 65, and son, Ian Rigby, 67.

Arguments

But they fell out dramatically after meeting up at their mother’s home to clean it – and carried on arguing all the way to the High Court.

Mr Rigby, who lived on the same street as his mother, said Mrs Wilby had only visited about six times in 40 years. Mrs Wilby claimed her brother, an electrician, had renovated Mrs Rigby’s home without telling her and they couldn’t agree on whether to sell or rent out the property.

“Communication breakdown”

Judge David Hogg QC said he was “sad” that, in spite of their mother’s aversion to lawyers, her “warring” children had ended up in court.

He told them: ““The question is whether you can work together and it is quite apparent you can’t.”

He added: “I am entirely satisfied there has been a complete communication breakdown. There is a clash of personalities and mutual lack of confidence.

“We know what Sybil wanted because she left a Will. What is clear is that these two siblings do not get on and cannot work together. They have lost trust in each other.”

Sacked as executors

After removing Mrs Wilby and Mr Rigby as executors of the will he ordered new executors to be either agreed on by the siblings or independently appointed – in which case, they are likely to be lawyers.

The judge also ordered Mr Rigby to pay £13,500 from his half of the estate to compensate his sister for lost rental income on the house. He was also told to pay the legal costs of the case, estimated at £40,000.

  • The case is a clear reminder that the role of the executor or administrator is not an office for its own purpose but to further the administration of the estate. Where that process is being blocked by the executor or administrator, then steps can be taken to redress that.

If you find yourself in disagreement over a Will, our local legal specialists in Wards Solicitors’ disputes team will be able to help and advise you.

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