A personal representative owes a duty to account to all beneficiaries and any other persons with an interest under the Will
When a family member passes away, it is important to know what information you are entitled to receive from the executor or administrator of an estate. WESA defines this person as a “personal representative”.
A personal representative owes a duty to account to all beneficiaries and any other persons with an interest under the Will. What this means is that they must provide information about the status of the estate and its administration.
A personal representative must be able to respond to inquiries from beneficiaries. The personal representative is also under a legal requirement to have the estate accounts approved by the beneficiaries and/or the Court at certain times throughout the process of administration. When applying for an estate grant, the personal representative must swear an Affidavit that states they will administer the estate in accordance with the law and be subject to the legal responsibility of a personal representative. This responsibility includes the duty to account.
The following information must be included in a personal representative’s Statement of Account Affidavit:
- A statement of the assets and liabilities of the estate at the testator’s date of death;
- A statement of assets and liabilities of the estate at the end of the time period covered by the accounting;
- A chronological listing and description of capital transactions for the time period in question;
- A chronological listing and description of income transactions for the time period in question;
- A statement showing the proposed fees that the personal representative is claiming for their work; and
- A statement setting out the distribution of the estate, including any previous distributions to beneficiaries and proposed future distributions.
Note that the executor may also include any additional information that they feel is relevant or that may be important to the beneficiaries or the Court.
In most situations, beneficiaries of an estate will consent to the “passing of accounts” and this will avoid the expense of a hearing before the Supreme Court Registrar. However, if all beneficiaries are unwilling to consent, then a passing of accounts before the Court is necessary. This would happen if a beneficiary has concerns about the estate’s administration. For example, they may wish to dispute certain expenses that the executor incurred in the course of their duty or they do not agree with the fees that an executor proposes to charge for their work. In other cases, beneficiaries are simply unable, in law, to consent to the estate accounts. This applies to situations where beneficiaries are minors or incapable of managing their own affairs.
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