Independent Estate Administrators and Trustees

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Independent Estate Administrators and Trustees

With an increasing trend for disputes involving either the estate of someone who has died or a family trust ending up in court proceedings, there is often a need for an independent administrator or trustee to become involved to break the deadlock.

Family disputes about estates or trusts can quickly become very hostile and seemingly intractable with neither side trusting the other to deal with the administration of the estate or trust fairly and impartially. This inevitably results in delay and sometimes in significant loss and expense to the estate or trust.

In these circumstances an independent administrator who is neutral can administer the estate or trust without fear or favour.

The team at IBB Law regularly act as independent estate administrators and trustees in a wide range of situations, providing professional expertise and a neutral perspective for these critical matters.

We will not, however, let the need to remain independent and impartial result in inactivity. If our proposals for breaking any impasse can be agreed by all parties, all well and good, but we will not shirk from taking difficult decisions which may not be popular with all of the beneficiaries if that is what is needed to enable the necessary progress to be made with administering the estate or trust. We are well practised at handling difficult conversations with tact and diplomacy.

To find out more about appointing IBB Law as independent estate administrators or trustees, please contact Jacqueline Almond by emailing

Why appoint an independent estate administrator?

You may want to consider appointing an independent, professional estate administrator where there is a Will but the appointed executors:

  • Are unfit to take up the appointment
  • Are unwilling to act or
  • Wish to stand down and/or
  • Are in dispute with some or all of the beneficiaries

Involving an independent administrator may provide a simple and effective way to release any logjam.

Likewise, it can be useful to appoint an independent administrator if there is no Will but a number of people have the same right to apply for a grant of letters of administration, but they cannot agree between them who should apply.

On this basis, while the parties to the dispute can get on with attempting to resolve their differences, the independent administrator can get on with:

  • Obtaining a grant of letters of administration
  • Collecting in the assets in the estate
  • Where appropriate, paying off some, if not all, of the liabilities

An independent estate administrator can focus on preserving the value of the estate for the benefit of all of the beneficiaries.

Why appoint an independent trustee?

It may be worth considering appointing an independent trustee in circumstances such as where:

  • You believe the trust and its beneficiaries would benefit from professional expertise
  • There have been concerns about the capability or conduct of an existing trustee or trustees
  • A trustee has died or is no longer capable of carrying out the role

Appointing an independent professional as a trustee can help to ensure the trust is managed effectively, such that the beneficiaries receive the maximum benefit and the risk of any disputes is minimised.

Our expertise and experience in acting as independent estate administrators and trustees

At IBB we have teams of both non-contentious and contentious trust and probate specialists. A number of our non-contentious lawyers are members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), and a number of our contentious lawyers are members of The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS). The breadth and depth of our experience enables us to deal with these cases pro-actively, efficiently and cost effectively.

Our non-contentious lawyers act for clients locally, nationally and internationally and have a wealth of experience dealing with complicated, high value estates including those involving family companies, complex trust structures and overseas assets. The team led by Jacqueline Almond includes fellow partners Russell Hallam and Joanna Mills. In the Legal 500, the team is ranked in the highest band, with Jacqueline being described as ‘a leading individual’.

Our contentious team is headed up by Amanda Melton (also ‘a leading individual’ in the Legal 500), who has a wealth of experience dealing with all types of Will and trust and probate disputes; rectification and construction claims; Inheritance Act claims; administration actions as well as property disputes involving allegations of constructive trusts and/or proprietary estoppel within the context of Will disputes as well as challenges to lifetime gifts involving inter vivos undue influence. Amanda is assisted by partner Paul Grimwood who is an experienced ADR group accredited mediator.

Endorsements for our team

Jacqueline Almond has extensive expertise advising clients on probate, estate administration and tax planning. A source enthuses:

She is very empathetic; she is very good at explaining circumstances and situations to people. She does not blind people with science; she explains an important part of what is going on, why it is important to them and where they all benefit from going through this process. She pitches it right.

Russell Hallam is noted for his financial and estate planning advice.

Joanna Mills has substantial experience advising wealthy clients on estate planning, tax and Wills. She also has expertise advising on family investment companies. A source says:

Within a minute she instils confidence in the client. She is technically superb but with a great personality to match.

IBB handle a varied caseload particularly of probate and succession disputes of moderate to high value, largely in the Home Counties area. They manage the cases very well. They particularly stand out for their proactivity and lateral thinking in terms of finding cost-effective alternatives to litigation or taking litigation to trial. I have been very impressed with the team.

Amanda Melton is excellent. She thinks outside the box and is always looking out for the client’s best interests. She also manages to be more organised and contactable than many of her peers.

I can unreservedly recommend Paul for mediating inheritance disputes.  He is great with clients, understands the details and issues in these claims and calmly steered our dispute towards settlement at the mediation.

Independent estate administration and trusteeship case studies

A number of years after the deceased’s death we were appointed in place of his widow in circumstances where a successful claim had already been made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, which the beneficiaries would not accept.

The estate, originally worth over £1.5 million, consisted of a number of properties which needed to be either rented out or sold and one of which was the subject of an insurance claim.

We were appointed as an independent administrator when the children of the deceased could not agree who should deal with the estate.  There was also an allegation that the Will had been forged.

The estate involved a property which one of the children went into occupation of. Having successfully taken possession proceedings, we were then able to complete the administration of the estate.

We were appointed as the independent administrators of two estates relating to a husband and wife where the children did not get on with each other. The combined value of the estates was in the region of £1 million and we also had to become involved in completing the winding up of a nil-rate band discretionary trust as well as dealing with various disputes about chattels.

We were appointed under a power of attorney to replace the three appointed executors all of whom were children of the deceased. As well as having to deal with allegations of theft from the deceased’s estate we also had to contend with the beneficiaries being unable to agree how particular assets should be dealt with.

We were appointed under a power of attorney in an estate involving the homemade Will of an entrepreneur who ran his financial affairs in an unconventional manner. His Will was poorly drafted, as a result of which we had to apply to the court for directions as to the interpretation of a number of clauses.

The estate involved two ex-wives both of whom made claims under the Inheritance Act as well as six children, of whom one was a minor. It was necessary to appoint directors in the deceased’s businesses and wind those up.

Independent estate administration and trusteeship fees

The costs of appointing a professional to act for you as an estate administrator or independent trustee needs to be carefully weighed against the benefits of doing so. By ensuring these delicate matters are handled correctly and minimising the risk of disputes, handing over this responsibility to an expert can ultimately save you money, as well as being much less stressful.

We always aim to be transparent with our pricing, so will be happy to discuss the likely costs involved at the outset. This will include a clear breakdown of our rates and the types of expenses that may be incurred by having one of our team act for you.

For more information on our independent estate administration and trusteeship fees, please get in touch.

Get in touch to discuss appointing IBB Law as independent estate administrators or trustees

The information given here is intended for general information purposes only and should not be taken as specific legal advice.

For detailed guidance relevant to your situation, please contact Jacqueline Almond by emailing