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Can a Beneficiary of a Will See the Estate Accounts?

13th March 2017

The only people who are entitled to see the Estate Accounts are the Residuary Beneficiaries, although there are some exceptions to this rule, which are explained below. This information applies in England and Wales.

For initial advice and guidance call our Probate Advisors on 03306069584 or contact us online and we help you.

What are Estate Accounts?

When someone dies, the Will states who is to benefit from the Estate. If a Will has not been left, the Rules of Intestacy will determine who is to benefit.

The Executors named in the Will must administer the Estate in accordance with the terms of the Will. If there isn’t a legally valid Will in place, the Personal Representatives who are taking on the role must act in accordance with Intestacy Rules. When the Estate administration is complete, the Personal Representatives should produce a final document detailing the Estate’s Accounts.

The Estate Accounts will show the final total of assets, liabilities, fees and administration expenses, and how the balance of the Estate has been distributed.

Who is Entitled to See the Estate Accounts?

The only people entitled to receive a copy of the Estate Accounts are the Residuary Beneficiaries. A Residuary Beneficiary is someone who is given the remainder of the Estate (known as the Residue) once all the funeral expenses*, debts, taxes and other gifts have been paid out.

There are different types of gift that can be left in a Will. For example, a Pecuniary Legacy is when an individual is left a specific sum of money. If an individual is bequeathed a Pecuniary Legacy of £1,000 and he/she receives £1,000, he/she would then have no further rights as far as the Estate is concerned.

But if an individual is to receive a share of the Estate after the specific bequests have been distributed, then the individual is a Residuary Beneficiary and would be entitled to receive a full account of all of the assets and how they have been distributed.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are some exceptions to this rule. The following also have a right to see the Estate Accounts:

  • A beneficiary who is entitled to receive a legacy but their interest cannot be paid in full
  • Beneficiaries and creditors whose interests/liabilities cannot be paid in full because the Estate is insolvent
  • Parents or guardians of minor beneficiaries

Estate Accounts should contain a complete record of all financial transactions during the administration of an Estate from the date of death through to its conclusion. They do not have to be provided until the Estate has been finalised.

There is no specific rule as to the format of Estate Accounts but they would generally consist of a summary of the terms of the Will/Rules of Intestacy, a balance sheet, capital statement, income statement, securities (investments) schedule and a distribution statement.

If a beneficiary who is entitled to see the Estate Accounts does not receive a copy from the Personal Representatives upon request once an Estate has been concluded, they may apply to the Probate Registry for an inventory and account order.

* Funeral Expenses – One of the benefits of our Probate Complete Service is that we can settle the cost of a Co-op Funeralcare funeral and reimburse any deposit paid, as soon as you have instructed us to represent you; providing that the Estate owns assets that can be liquidated.

Another benefit is that we take full responsibility for getting the Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excluding VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs.

For initial advice and guidance call our Probate Advisors on 03306069584 or contact us online and we call you.

Co-op Legal Services has been named Probate Provider of the Year 2018, is the largest provider of Probate and Estate administration services in England and Wales, and is trusted to deal with over £1.3 billion in Estates annually.

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