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Is there a time limit for an estate beneficiary to apply to obtain a full set of estate accounts from the personal representatives?

Section 25 of the Administration of Estates Act 1925 (AEA 1925) provides that the personal representative of a deceased person is under a duty, among other things, to exhibit on oath, when required to do so by the court, a full inventory of the estate and when so required render an account of the administration of the estate to the court. See Practice Note: Estate accounts.

The Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 (NCPR 1987), SI 1987/2024, r 61 governs the procedure by which AEA 1925, s 25 can be invoked. This provides that an application for an inventory and account shall be made by summons to a registrar, and shall be issued out of the registry in which it is to be heard. ‘Registrar’ means the district probate registrar of the district probate registry to which an application for a grant is made or proposed to be made or, in respect of NCPR 1987, r 61, from which the grant issued (NCPR 1987, r 2(1)).

There is no time limit set out in either AEA 1925, s 25 or NCPR 1987, SI 1987/2024, r 61. The purpose of AEA 1925, s 25 is to allow the beneficiary a remedy where the beneficiary seeks to understand the nature and extent of the property comprised is the estate and the manner in which the estate is being administered by the PR and provides protection for the beneficiary against a lazy, negligent, recalcitrant or malign PR: Ali v Taj (Probate-Inventory and Account). In that case, the application was made nearly 11 years after the grant of probate. McDonald J made clear that an order that the executor provide an inventory of the estate and account of their administration of the estate can be sought at any time, even in the first year following the grant of probate, during which year the executor is not bound to distribute the estate of the deceased (see: AEA 1925, s 44) and that mere lapse of time is no bar to the discharge of the obligation (see Jickling v Bircham (1843) 2 Notes of Cases 463 and Scurrah v Scurrah (1841) 2 Curt 919 at 921) (not reported by LexisNexis®).

In the circumstances there is no time limit to the making of an application requiring an executor to discharge their obligation, though the longer the time, the harder it will be to obtain a satisfactory outcome.

If you would like a chat to discuss further, please feel free to contact me for a free 30-minute consultation.

Sophie Campbell

01637 800 306

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