Are Residuary Beneficiaries Entitled to See Final Estate Accounts?
17 October 2018
By Probate Solicitor, Kate Rutherford
Residuary Beneficiaries are the only people (other than the Executor) entitled to see the Estate Accounts, although there are some exceptions to this rule which are set out below.
Dealing with a Deceased Person's Estate
If someone dies leaving a Will, this will name one or more Executors – these are the people responsible for winding up the person's affairs and distributing their Estate. Executors named in the Will must administer the Estate in accordance with the terms of the Will. The terms of the Will stipulate who is entitled to benefit and what they are entitled to.
If there was no Will, then inheritance laws, called the Rules of Intestacy, will determine who is responsible for carrying out this role. This person is called the Personal Representative. Personal Representatives administering an Estate under the Rules of Intestacy must act in accordance with these rules, which set out who is entitled to inherit the deceased's Estate.
The Executor or Personal Representative will be also be responsible for preparing the Estate Accounts.
What are Estate Accounts?
The Estate Accounts will show the assets and liabilities (debts) of the Estate. They will also show all fees and administration expenses, the amount of income received during the Estate administration and how the balance of the Estate is being distributed.
Estate Accounts should contain a full record of all transactions carried out during the Estate administration, from the date of the deceased's death through to conclusion.
There is no specific rule which states how the Estate Accounts should be set out but they would usually contain:
- A summary of the terms of the Will/Rules of Intestacy
- A balance sheet summarising the overall position
- A schedule of the assets and liabilities as valued at the date of death
- An Inheritance Tax schedule (in Estates where Inheritance Tax is payable)
- A capital statement showing adjustments to the value of the Estate since the date of death
- An income statement showing what income has been received since the date of death to encashment and the tax year(s) to which it relates
- A schedule of the administration expenses; these are the costs and fees involved in managing the administration of the Estate, e.g. solicitors fees, valuation fees, etc.
- A distribution account showing the entitlement of each Beneficiary and the final amount due to them.
This can be a lot to cover in addition to all of the other responsibilities of the Executor / Personal Representative. With our Probate Complete Service, we can take full responsibility for preparing the Estate Accounts on your behalf. In addition, we will take care of all of the legal, administrative and tax work on the Estate.
Who are the Residuary Beneficiaries?
The Residuary Beneficiaries are the people receiving the 'residual' balance of the Estate. This is the amount left over after all funeral expenses, debts, taxes, administration costs and other gifts have been paid. It's important to note that if the Will details set sums of money to specific people, these are called pecuniary legacies and these must be paid before the residual balance of the Estate is calculated. For more information, see Legacies in Wills and Probate Explained.
Where a person is a Residuary Beneficiary, they are entitled to receive a full account of the Estate assets and how they have been distributed in order to see how their share has been calculated. The Estate Accounts do not have to be provided until the Estate administration has been finalised.
Who Else Is Entitled to See the Estate Accounts?
The following people also have a right to see the Estate Accounts:
- A Beneficiary who is entitled to receive a legacy but this cannot be paid in full
- Beneficiaries and creditors whose interest/liability cannot be paid in full because the Estate is insolvent
- Parents or guardians of minor Beneficiaries
What if The Executor Refuses to Provide The Estate Accounts?
If the Estate administration has been concluded and the Executor has not provided a Beneficiary with a copy of the Estate Accounts when requested, the Beneficiary may apply to the Probate Registry for an inventory and account order.