Home / Insights / Blog / Intestacy Grant Disputes – Who’s the King

Intestacy Grant Disputes – Who’s the King

Intestacy Grant Disputes – Who’s the King

Intestacy Grant Disputes – Who’s the King

The recently published Judgment in the case of King -v- King sets out the principles for deciding who should be appointed as the administrator of an estate if there is a dispute about this.

Eric King died intestate on 15 April 2021.  On 11 July 2023 a District Probate Registrar ordered that letters of administration should be issued to one of his sons, Stephen which duly happened on 7 August 2023.  Another of Mr King’s sons, Philip sought to appeal that order.

Where someone dies without leaving a Will, the priority in terms of who is entitled to apply for a grant of letters of administration is : –

(a) the surviving spouse or civil partner,

(b) the children of the deceased and the issue of any deceased child who died before the deceased.

The deceased was divorced and therefore his children and the issue of any deceased child were entitled equally to a grant.

Where more than one person is equally entitled to a grant the court has a discretion as to who should be appointed.  The following factors are relevant to the court’s decision : –

  • Whether the applicant’s characteristics make them unsuitable to act e.g., dishonesty, bankruptcy, insolvency, or ill health.
  • Whether there is a any sort of conflict of interest.
  • The views of those entitled to the larger share of the deceased’s estate.
  • If there is nothing else to choose between them the person who applied first although that is not thought to carry that much weight.

In these situations, the court can either exercise its discretion to select one of the applicants as the administrator or if it thinks it is necessary or expedient to do so can appoint a wholly independent administrator usually a solicitor.

In this particular case, the Deceased had been married and there were three children of that marriage, Philip, Stephen and a third son Eric who died before the deceased.   Eric had three children, Tanisha, Rochelle and Curtis.   The matter was further complicated by the fact that on the court file there was a letter from someone called Kathleen asserting that she and her two siblings, Phyllis and Andrew were also children of the deceased.  Stephen believed that Tanisha and her siblings were Eric’s children but Philip disputed this.

Having carefully considered various criticisms Philip made about Stephen, the judge decided that it was not appropriate to appoint Philip to be the administrator so the choice came down to either appointing Stephen or a completely independent professional.

Despite the fact that it was a relatively modest estate which may need to be divided amongst a relatively large number of beneficiaries, the Deputy High Court Judge decided that as there were special circumstances present the only sensible solution was to bring in independent professional administrators.

So, if you get involved in a right royal dispute as to who is entitled to apply for a grant of letters of administration, you at least now know the sorts of things which the court will take into account.

Get tailored advice for dealing with contentious probate

To speak to a member of our expert team about a will dispute, contact us today by calling 0330 175 7617 or email us at enquiries@ibblaw.co.uk.

For specific guidance relevant to your situation, please contact our contentious probate specialist Paul Grimwood by calling 01895 207859 or emailing paul.grimwood@ibblaw.co.uk.