MW’s Head of Estate and Trust Dispute Team, Hayley Bundey, discusses the common scenario of siblings finding themselves at war over the distribution of their parents’ Estates and how our Specialist Team can help you break through deadlocks.

As the Supreme Court’s decision on Illott v Mitson is imminently awaited, following the hearing on 12th December 2016, it is inevitable that the decision (whatever it may be) will shed light once again upon the issue of financial provision made by parents for their children in their Wills. This is in the context of claims brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”) however it is not only these sorts of claims which can pitch sibling against sibling following their parents’ death.

Dealing with Unreasonable Siblings

Apart from other claims (such as challenging the validity of Wills), our Estate & Trust Dispute Team are seeing an increase in the number of clients who simply need our help in dealing with their, often unreasonable, siblings just to ensure they obtain from their parents’ Estate what they are already entitled to under a Will or Intestacy. A difficult economic climate, larger Estates and more complex families (including step-families) can all contribute to this but sometimes it can simply be that clients see a change in their family member that they never saw coming until the worst happened and their parents passed.

Joint Executors

This becomes all the more difficult when siblings are jointly appointed as Executors in a Will as this can often lead to deadlock, with the administration grinding to a standstill if agreement cannot be reached. Sometimes the only way to break that deadlock is to apply to remove a sibling as a co-Executor of the Estate or agreeing to the appointment of an independent firm of solicitors to administer the Estate instead.

Even then our ongoing help is often required to ensure that the due administration of the Estate proceeds without further incident – particularly to ensure that you are kept fully informed of progress with the administration, that the distribution which is received at the end of the administration is the correct one and that an unreasonable sibling has not managed to reduce the value of the Estate or, worse still, hide assets along the way. We can also help to ensure a fair division of sentimental items in the Estate – something which often means as much, if not more, to our clients than their financial distribution from the Estate.

Deferred Funding Arrangement

Often our Estate & Trust Dispute Team can act for clients in these situations on a deferred privately funded arrangement so that you simply pay our costs from your inheritance at the end of the administration of the Estate – i.e. you don’t need to fund them as you go. We find this is reassuring to clients who already come to us in a state of high stress, due to the conduct of their sibling, and who need our immediate help to break through the deadlock but who simply can’t afford to pay for it until they receive their inheritance.

So don’t despair and suffer in silence – pick up the phone or email us today. We are here to help you fight for your inheritance, to stand up to your sibling and remind them of your rights in relation to the Estate and to ensure you receive what is rightfully yours without their conduct holding you to ransom.

We Can Help

At McMillan Williams, our mission is "to make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who find themselves in a trust dispute with their siblings.

Our Specialist Estate & Trust Dispute Team are here to offer a helping hand and to guide you through the process of breaking that deadlock as quickly and painlessly as possible.  If you would like to take advantage of our FREE CASE REVIEW, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at

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