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Son wins court battle against "obsessed and entrenched" solicitor

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A son has been given permission to administer his father’s estate after a legal battle with a solicitor executor ended with the High Court at Liverpool ruling in his favour.

Mark Holding, of Surbiton, sued Kelsall Solicitor Susan Lebreton-Towell, in relation to the estate of Norman Alfred Holding – who also lived in Kelsall.  Norman died on the 1 September 2020. 

Lebreton-Towell had drawn up his will in December 2019 and had herself and Mark appointed as executors. Executors are people named by the person who has passed to call in and collect the assets of the estate, pay the debts, and pay the money left to the beneficiaries. After a few minor bequests Norman left his estate to Mark. At the time Lebreton-Towell was working for the Kelsall firm LT Law. 

Mark wanted to deal with the administration himself without the expensive involvement of Lebreton-Towell.  

Mark was concerned that Lebreton-Towell was failing to progress the administration of the estate, so he asked Lebreton-Towell to “renounce” her entitlement to a Grant – but she declined so. 

Mark took legal proceedings against Lebreton-Towell to have her removed as an executor and he used Warrington law firm – FDR Law. 

Lebreton-Towell refused to step down despite formal complaints and a Letter of Claim from Mark resulting in a court hearing in Liverpool before Judge Hassall on the 29 & 30 July 2021 - but written Judgment has been handed down.

At the final hearing Judge Hassall said, “This is another example of what might amount to conduct not reasonably expected of a Solicitor of this court…”He also concluded that Lebreton-Towell “became obsessed and entrenched”. 

The Judge also concluded that She “did not fully and transparently deal with costs and information requests.”Also, against that background he was content to remove her since he concluded that she was not assisting and was not likely to assist in real terms with the administration of the estate. 

He also ordered Lebreton-Towell to pay Mark’s legal costs assessed at just under £30,000.00.

After the hearing Mark said “I am delighted with the verdict of the court. This ends 10 months of stress caused by the defendant’s deeply upsetting involvement in my father’s estate.  My legal team, Solicitor Stephen Lawson and Barrister Sarah Harrison demonstrated a fine grasp of the complex issues in this case”.

Stephen Lawson, Contentious Probate Specialist at FDR Law said “Mark has achieved the outcome he deserves.  It is tragic that Lebreton-Towell did not take the numerous opportunities that were given to her to step down from the administration of the estate.  Why she should have sought to cling on to her appointment despite the evidence pointing to her removal is regrettable”. 

If you would like to find out more about the above, please contact Stephen Lawson at Stephen.lawson@fdrlaw.co.uk or another member of the team on 01925 230000. If you are looking for more information about wills, trusts & probate, please click here to find out more.