Challenge to remove Jimmy Savile’s Executors fails

30 May 2014

The beneficiaries of Jimmy Savile’s estate have been at loggerheads with his Executors following fears that compensation claims to his victims may use up all the money in his Estate.

Savile’s Will left his Estate, worth approx. £3.3 million, largely to a charitable trust bearing his name. NatWest were appointed as his Executors.

The case of National Westminster Bank plc v Lucas and others Re Estate of Jimmy Savile (deceased) ([2014] EWHC 653 (Ch)) involved a dispute between the Executors and the Trustees of the charitable Will Trust.

Following certain well-publicised allegations, there are 139 personal injury claims against the estate, which may well exhaust all the assets.

The Executors therefore came up with a proposed scheme for settling the claims.  However, the Trustees were not happy and felt that the Executors were ‘capitulating’ to the claimants without a fight.  The Trustee applied to the Court for the Executors to be replaced on the grounds that:

  1. They were not acting in the best interests of the beneficiaries; and
  2. The relationship between the Executors and the Trustees had broken down.

The Executors applied for the Court to approve their scheme and expenses dealing with the scheme.

The Court held that the Executors should not be removed:

  1. “Friction” between the parties is not sufficient grounds for removing an Executor;
  2. The Court had to exercise particular caution where there is a risk, as there is here, that the estate may be insolvent; and
  3. The proposed scheme was sensible and pragmatic.

Given the above, the Court approved the scheme and the expenses, subject to any later challenges.

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