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Law of successlon

% Succssion upon datb
n everv leaal svsLem Lhere musL be rules aovernlna Lhe dlsLrlbuLlon of properLv afLer deaLh 1hese rules
musL be deslaned Lo deLermlne who ls Lo recelve Lhe properLv and Lhe manner ln whlch dlsLrlbuLlon ls Lo
be effecLed 1hese Lwo problems are answered bv the rules relaLlna Lo LesLaLe and lnLesLaLe successlon
and bv Lhe rules aovernlna Lhe admlnlsLraLlon of esLaLes respecLlvelv
US: laws governing wills come into play when a will is probated. To probate (prove) a will means to
establish its validity and carry out the administration oI the estate through a process supervised by a
probate court. probate laws vary Irom state to state. Nevertheless, the UniIorm Probate Code, passed in
1969 and signiIicantly revised in 1990, codiIies general principles and procedures Ior the resolution oI
conIlicts in settling estates and relaxes some oI the requirements Ior a valid will contained in earlier state
laws. Inheritance and succession laws still vary widely among states, however.
stat and intstat succssion
stat Succssion
1esLaLe successlon arlses where Lhe deceased person has expressed hls wlshes concernlna Lhe
devoluLlon of hls properLv durlna hls llfeLlme ln Lhe form of a wlll nLesLaLe successlon arlses where
Lhere has been no wlll or where for one reason or anoLher a wlll has falled Lo Lake effecL and
consequenLlv Lhe people who are enLlLled Lo Lhe properLv have Lo be deslanaLed bv rules of law
A.... 1he nuture of u wlll
A wlll ls a declaraLlon made bv a person ln hls llfeLlme of hls wlshes concernlna Lhe devoluLlon of hls
properLv afLer hls deaLh 1he characLerlsLlcs of a wlll can be ouLllned as follows
1) L ls ambulaLorv unless Lhere ls a clear lnLenLlon Lo Lhe conLrarv lL Lakes effecL from Lhe Llme of
deaLh noL from Lhe Llme lL ls made lL ls sald Lo be 'ambulaLorv' unLll deaLh 1he wlll 'speaks
from' Lhe deaLh
2) L ls revocable (see A116)
3) L ls Lhe sole expresslon of LesLamenLarv wlshes Lven when a second wlll does noL enLlrelv
revoke Lhe flrsL wlll as a resulL of lL noL belna enLlrelv lnconslsLenL LherewlLh lL ls lnaccuraLe Lo
speak of a person leavlna Lwo wllls he or she does leave and can leave buL one wlll A wlll mav
however be recLlfled bv courL order so as Lo alve effecL Lo a LesLaLor's lnLenLlons
US: when it can be shown that the decedent`s plan oI distribution was the result oI Iraud or undue
inIluence, the will is declared invalid. Undue inIluence may be inIerred by the court iI the testator
ignored blood relatives and named as beneIiciary a nonrelative who was in constant close contact
with the testator and in a position to inIluence the making oI a will.
) Wllls of land are aoverned bv Lhe law of Lhe counLrv ln whlch Lhe land ls slLuaLed e Lhe lex
slLus Wllls of personal properLv musL be made ln accordance wlLh Lhe law of Lhe LesLaLor's
domlclle aL hls deaLh
US: unless statutory Iormalities are Iollowed, the will will be declared void, and the decedent`s property
will be distributed according to the laws oI intestacy oI that state. Nonetheless, the requirements are not
uniIorm among the iurisdictions.
A.... 1extumentury cupuclty
1he aeneral rule ls LhaL abnvone (excepL a mlnor or a person of unsound mlnd) mav make a wlll f
lncapaclLv exlsLs lL musL be clearlv proved
1he courL can order a sLaLuLorv wlll for an adulL paLlenL under Lhe MenLal PealLh AcL 1983

-Legal age: the legal age Ior executing a will varies, but in most states and under the UPC, the minimum
age is eighteen years.
-The sound mind requirement: the concept oI being oI sound mind` reIers to the testator`s ability to
Iormulate and to comprehend a personal plan Ior the disposition oI property. Generally, a testator must:
1) Intend the document to be his or her last will or testament.
2) Comprehend the kind and character oI the property being distributed, and
3) Comprehend and remember the natural obiects oI his or her bounty` (usually, Iamily members and
persons Ior whom the testator has aIIection).
A.... Formulltlex
1he Wllls AcL 1837 as amended bv Lhe AdmlnlsLraLlon of !usLlce AcL 1982 prescrlbes Lhe followlna
a) Lhe wlll musL be ln wrlLlna and slaned bv Lhe LesLaLor or bv some oLher person ln hls
presence and bv hls dlrecLlon and lL musL appear LhaL Lhe LesLaLor lnLended bv hls slanaLure Lo alve
effecL Lo Lhe wlll
US: the writing itselI can be inIormal as long as it substantially complies with the statutory requirements.
The Iorm is not so important as the intent oI the testator. A holographic will is one that the testator writes,
dates, and signs entirely in his own handwriting.
) Lhe slanaLure musL be made or acknowledaed bv Lhe LesLaLor ln Lhe presence of Lwo or more
wlLnesses presenL aL Lhe same Llme
US: a Iundamental requirement Ior a valid will is that the testator`s signature must appear on the will,
generally at the end oI the document. Initials, a mark, an X or other mark, and words such as Mom` have
all been upheld as valid when it was shown that the testators intended them to be signatures.
c) Lach wlLness musL elLher aLLesL and slan Lhe wlll or acknowledae hls slanaLure ln Lhe
presence of Lhe LesLaLorbuL noL necessarllv ln Lhe presence of anv oLher wlLness
US: usually, the testator and all witnesses must sign in the sight or the presence oI one another, but there
are exceptions. The UPC deems it suIIicient iI the testator acknowledges her or his signatures to the
witnesses. The UPC does not require all parties to sign in the presence oI one antoher.
f anvone Lo whom or Lo whose husband or wlfe Lhe LesLaLor has lefL properLv ls a wlLness he wlll noL
be enLlLled Lo Lake under Lhe wlll buL Lhe Wllls AcL 1968 provldes LhaL lf Lhe wlll ls dulv execuLed
wlLhouL Lhe aLLesLaLlon of such a person LhaL aLLesLaLlon musL be dlsreaarded A bllnd person cannoL
wlLness a wlll or codlcll as he cannoL acLuallv see Lhe slanaLure buL an llllLeraLe person can be a wlLness
as he can see Lhe slanaLure even lf he cannoL read lL 1he LesLaLor musL be ln such a poslLlon LhaL he can
see Lhe wlLnesses slan lL lf he wlshes Lo do so and he musL be aware of whaL Lhev are dolna ea noL so
near deaLh LhaL cannoL undersLand
v a rule of publlc pollcv (Lhe 'forfelLure' rule) no one who unlawfullv kllls anoLher person mav beneflL
under hls wlll or lnLesLacv uL because unlawful kllllnas mav someLlmes be commlLLed under
clrcumsLances where Lhere ls llLLle moral blame (ea a 'mercv' kllllna of a husband bv hls wlfe) Lhe rlaour
of Lhls rule was mlLlaaLed bv Lhe lorfelLure AcL 1982 whlch provldes LhaL a courL mav aL lLs dlscreLlon
make an order wlLh reaard Lo anv lnLeresL ln Lhe properLv devolvlna upon Lhe offender whlch Lhe [usLlce
of Lhe case requlres
US: iI a giIt is conditioned on the commission oI an illegal act or an act that is legally impossible to IulIil,
the giIt will be invalid.

US: PUBLICATION REQUIREMENT:the maker oI a will publishes the will by orally declaring to the
witnesses that the document they are about to sign is his or her last will and testament`. Publication is
becoming an unnecessary Iormality in most states, and it is not required under the UPC.
A...4. SolJlerx wlllx
oldlers sallors and alrmen whlle ln acLual mlllLarv servlce and seamen aL sea have speclal prlvlleaes
1hev mav make wllls even Lhouah Lhev are noL of aae provlded LhaL Lhev have aLLalned Lhe aae of 1
vears 1hev mav make lnformal wllls Lven an oral declaraLlon wlll sufflce provlded LhaL lL ls a serlous
sLaLemenL or lnLenLlon A wlLness Lo a soldler's wlll mav recelve beneflLs under lL

US: A nuncupative will is an oral will made beIore witnesses; it need not be Iormally attested. It is not
permitted in most states, and where permitted statutes generally limit such wills to a small amount oI
personal property varying Irom $50 to $500 in value. Where authorised by statute, nuncupative wills are
generally valid only iI made during the last illness oI the testator or in contemplation oI death, and
thereIore sometimes reIerred to as deathbed wills.
A...5. 1he cluxxex of textumentury Jlxpoxltlon
1esLamenLarv dlsposlLlons of freehold land are Lechnlcallv called 'devlses' ulsposlLlon of personal
properLv (lncludlna leaseholds) re called 'bequesLs' or 'leaacles'
A alfL mav be aeneral speclflc demonsLraLlve or reslduarv
A genera| g|ft ls a bequesL of some monev or Lhlna noL dlsLlnaulshed from all oLhers of Lhe same
klnd ea a bequesL of '100' or of 'a horse'
A ec|f|c g|ft ls a alfL of a speclfled Lhlna whlch can be dlsLlnaulshed bv Lhe descrlpLlon ln Lhe
wlll from all oLher Lhlnas ea ' bequeaLh Lo x mv mare ualsv'
A emontrat|ve g|ft ls one of a sum of monev Lo be pald ouL of a parLlcular fund ea 300 ouL
of mv 23 War Lock
A re|ary g|ft ls a alfL of Lhe resldue of Lhe esLaLe or parL of lL lefL over afLer all oLher alfLs
have been made and debLs pald
1hese dlsLlncLlons are lmporLanL because Lhe naLure of Lhe alfLs wlll deLermlne wheLher Lhev are llable
Lo adempLlon or abaLemenL
AdempLlon occurs when someLhlna whlch ls sub[ecL Lo a speclflc bequesL perlshes beLween Lhe
Llme Lhe wlll ls execuLed and Lhe deaLh 1he alfL ls 'adeemed' 1hls docLrlne could noL applv Lo
aeneral leaacles and lL ls esLabllshed LhaL lL does noL applv Lo a demonsLraLlve alfL for lL ls
deemed Lo be Lhe lnLenLlon of Lhe LesLaLor Lo alve effecL Lo such a alfL even Lhouah Lhe fund
from whlch lL ls Lo come has ceased Lo exlsL aL Lhe Llme of Lhe deaLh demonsLraLlve leaacles lf
adeemed are Lurned lnLo aeneral leaacles AdempLlon of a speclflc leaacv wlll also occur where
Lhe Lhlna alven has been subsLanLlallv chanaed before Lhe LesLaLor's deaLh A mere chanae ln
name or form however wlll noL lead Lo adempLlon
AbaLemenL occurs where Lhere ls noL enouah properLv Lo saLlsfv all beneflclarles afLer Lhe
credlLors of Lhe deceased have been pald n Lhls case some of Lhe beneflclarles musL lose Lhelr
rlahLs and Lhelr alfLs 'abaLe' (le cease Lo Lake effecL) ln a speclfled order '8eslduarv' alfLs abaLe
flrsL and 'speclflc' alfLs lasL f Lhe resldue ls exhausLed aeneral alfLs are resorLed Lo nexL Lhev
abaLe proporLlonaLelv accordlna Lo Lhe value of each uemonsLraLlve alfLs wlll noL abaLe unless
Lhe fund ouL of whlch Lhev are pavable ls lLself exhausLed lf LhaL happens Lhev wlll be LreaLed
for Lhe purposes of abaLemenL as lf Lhev were aeneral alfLs

Lapsed alfLs
Where a leaaLee or devlsee dles before Lhe LesLaLor Lhe alfL made Lo hlm lapses and Lhe
properLv so alven falls lnLo resldue for Lhe beneflL of Lhe reslduarv leaaLee Lapses do noL occur
however ln Lhe followlna
a) Where Lhere ls a devlse of an enLalled lnLeresL and Lhe devlsee predeceases Lhe LesLaLor buL
ls survlved bv lssue capable of lnherlLlna Lhe enLalled lnLeresL
b) Where Lhere ls a devlse or bequesL Lo a chlld or remoLer descendanL of Lhe LesLaLor and Lhe
lnLended beneflclarv dles before Lhe LesLaLor buL leaves lssue survlvlna Lhe LesLaLor 1hen
unless a conLrarv lnLenLlon appears ln Lhe wlll Lhe bequesL wlll Lake effecL for Lhe beneflL of
Lhe lssue
A...6. Revocutlon
A wlll mav be revoked elLher expresslv or bv lmpllcaLlon
US: in order to revoke a will, the testator must have the same mental capacity as is required to make a
will: he must be mentally competent.
Lxpress revocaLlon can onlv be effecLed lf Lhe lnsLrumenL bv whlch Lhe LesLaLor purporLs Lo revoke ls
properlv execuLed accordlna Lo Lhe formallLles Lhe Wllls AcL requlres for Lhe maklna of a wlll 1he same
rule applles Lo alLeraLlons or lnLerllneaLlons ln Lhe wlll Lhev musL be slaned and wlLnessed
US: a will may also be wholly or partially be partially revoked by a codicil, a written instrument separate
Irom the will that amends or revokes provisions in the will. A codicil eliminates the necessity oI
redraIting an entire will merely to add to it or amend it. A codicil can also be used to revoke an entire
will. The codicil must be executed with the same Iormalities required Ior a will, and it must reIer
expressly to the will. In eIIect, it updates the will because the will is incorporated by reIerence` into the
mplled revocaLlon arlses ln Lhree wavs
1) v Lhe maklna of a subsequenL lnconslsLenL formal LesLamenLarv documenL whlch dlsposes of
Lhe whole properLv embraced bv Lhe orlalnal wlll 1hus Lhouah lL ls usual for sollclLors Lo lnserL
ln wllls a clause ' herebv revoke all oLher wllls and LesLamenLarv dlsposlLlons hereLofore made
bv me' Lhls ls noL sLrlcLlv necessarv for provlded LhaL Lhe second wlll does dlspose of Lhe whole
properLv lL auLomaLlcallv revokes Lhe flrsL f such a clause ls noL lnserLed Lhe laLer wlll (or
codlcll) does noL revoke Lhe former wlll excepL ln so far as lL ls lnconslsLenL LherewlLh 1he resL
of Lhe former wlll remalns effecLlve
2) v 'urnlna Learlna or oLherwlse desLrovlna' Lhe wlll 1hls however onlv effecLs a revocaLlon lf
Lhere ls boLh phvslcal desLrucLlon and an lnLenLlon Lo revoke bv such desLrucLlon lurLher Lhe
desLrucLlon musL be effecLed elLher bv Lhe LesLaLor or bv someone ln hls presence who acLs wlLh
hls auLhorlLv 1hus lf vou accldenLallv Lhrow vour wlll lnLo a wasLepaper baskeL and lL ls Laken
awav and desLroved lL ls noL revoked Lvldence of Lhe conLenLs of such a wlll mav be alven (lf lL
can be obLalned) afLer vour deaLh
f a LesLaLor revokes hls wlll lnLendlna Lo make a new one buL Lhen falls Lo make a new wlll or
makes a wlll LhaL ls vold for anv reason Lhe orlalnal wlll remalns valld Pere Lhe revocaLlon of
Lhe flrsL wlll ls reaarded as belna dependenL on Lhe valldlLv of Lhe laLer one nLenLlonal
desLrucLlon of a wlll wlLh Lhe ob[ecL of maklna a fresh one mav lf such an lnLenLlon can be
proved revoke Lhe wlll from Lhe momenL of desLrucLlon so as Lo leave Lhe maker lnLesLaLe unLll
Lhe new one ls execuLed
US: In some states, partial revocation by physical act oI the maker is recognised. At no time can a
provision be crossed out and an additional substitute provision written in. such altered portions
require reexecution and reattestation. To revoke a will by physical act, it is necessary to Iollow
the mandates oI a state statute exactly. II the original copy oI a will cannot be Iound aIter the
testator`s death, it is generally presumed that the testator must have destroyed it with the intention
to revoke it.
3) v marrlaae Marrlaae conLracLed afLer Lhe execuLlon of Lhe wlll revokes lL auLomaLlcallv for
mosL purposes 1hls rule does noL however applv where Lhe wlll ls expressed Lo be made 'ln
conLemplaLlon' of a marrlaae where Lherefore a man made a wlll leavlna evervLhlna 'unLo mv
flancee ML' and Lhen marrled ML Lhe wlll was noL revoked for Lhe form of dlsposlLlon
clearlv conLemplaLed marrlaae wlLh ML whom Lhe LesLaLor dld ln facL marrv Where afLer a
LesLaLor has made a wlll hls or her marrlaae ls dlssolved annulled or declared vold anv devlse or
bequesL Lo Lhe former spouse lapses buL Lhe spouse mav neverLheless make a clalm for
reasonable provlslon under Lhe nherlLance AcL 1973 n respecL Lo deaLhs on or afLer 1 !anuarv
1996 ln Lhe evenL of anv devlse or bequesL of properLv on dlvorce or annulmenL of Lhe
LesLaLor's marrlaae Lhe properLv shall pass as lf Lhe former spouse had dled
US: under common law and the UPC, divorce does not necessarily revoke the entire will: only
those dispositions providing Ior the Iormer spouse will be automatically revoked upon divorce or
US: Rights under a will
A testator may disinherit his or her relatives and his or her spouse, albeit only in a Iew states.
ThereIore, a married person who makes a will generally cannot avoid leaving a certain portion oI
the estate to the surviving spouse. This is generally known as an elective share, and oIten
amounts to one third oI the estate.
BeneIiciaries under a will have rights as well. A beneIiciary can renounce (disclaim) his or her
share oI the property given under a will. In addition, a surviving spouse can renounce the amount
given under a will and elect to take the Iorced share when the Iorced share is larger than the
amount oI the giIt (this is known as a widow`s |right to| election). The revised UPC gives the
surviving spouse an elective right to take a percentage oI the total estate determined by the length
oI time that the spouse and the decedent were married to each other.
Although children usually may also be disinherited, most states provide that children born aIter
the making oI a will but beIore the death oI the testator inherit as though there were no will,
unless it appears that the testator intended otherwise. The vast maiority oI states have no speciIic
limitations on charitable bequests.
ntstat Succssion
nLesLacv ls aoverned bv Lhe AdmlnlsLraLlon of LsLaLes AcL 1923 as amended bv varlous sLaLuLes
Wherever a person dles lnLesLaLe lL ls provlded LhaL all hls properLv ls Lo vesL ln hls 'personal
represenLaLlves' upon LrusL for sale L musL be reallzed LhaL Lhls LrusL for sale ls onlv a pracLlcal devlce
whlch makes dlsLrlbuLlon posslble where Lhere are a larae number of beneflclarles Ls lmposlLlon does
noL mean LhaL Lhe properLv musL be sold 1here ls a power Lo posLpone sale lndeflnlLelv 1hus Lhere mav
never be an acLual sale Lhe properLv mav remaln 'unconverLed' when Lhe personal represenLaLlves vesL
lL ln lLs orlalnal form ln Lhe person enLlLled Lo lL Lven where Lhere are numerous beneflclarles Lhe
properLv need noL be sold lf lL ls posslble Lo dlsLrlbuLe lL wlLhouL Lurnlna lL lnLo monev

US: statutes oI descent and distribution (intestacy laws), and in some cases dower
and curtesy, all oI which vary widely Irom state to state, regulate how property will
be distributed among the heirs when a person dies intestate; iI no heirs exist, the
state will assume ownership oI the property. Descent reIers to the handling down
oI real property by inheritance on the death oI an owner who dies intestate.
Distribution means the allocation to heirs oI the personal property oI an individual
who dies intestate aIter the payment oI debts and charges against the state. These
laws are diverse and diIIicult to reconcile. The National ConIerence oI
Commissioners on UniIorm State Laws has been unable to reconcile the laws oI
descent and distribution.
The modern trend among the states has been to eliminate the distinction in the
treatment oI the inheritance rules Ior real and personal property, and the terms
heir` and next oI kin` are now used interchangeably to cover persons entitled to
take both real and personal property.
In community property states, the surviving spouse has a vested right in and
automatically inherits one-halI oI the community property whether or not there is a
1he sLaLuLorv rules aovernlna Lhe dlsLrlbuLlon of lnLesLaLes' esLaLes are based upon Lhe assumpLlon LhaL
people who dle lnLesLaLe would lf Lhev had made a wlll have wlshed Lo make provlslon for cerLaln
classes of near relaLlons 1hus Lhe prlmarv assumpLlon ls LhaL people usuallv wlsh Lo provlde for Lhelr
chlldren equallv and also Lo make provlslon for Lhelr wldows or wldowers durlna Lhe remalnder of Lhelr
llves L ls equallv Lrue LhaL afLer dlvorce or [udlclal separaLlon people do noL usuallv wlsh Lo beneflL Lhe
dlvorced or separaLed spouse and Lhe law Lakes Lhls also lnLo accounL
llve maln aroups of people have Lo be consldered
A.... A xurvlvlnq huxbunJ or wlfe
a) f Lhe lnLesLaLe leaves no chlldren and no parenL or broLher or slsLer of Lhe whole blood Lhen
Lhe survlvlna husband or wlfe wlll be enLlLled Lo Lhe whole reslduarv esLaLe absoluLelv lor
deaLhs afLer 1 !anuarv 1996 Lhe spouse musL survlve Lhe lnLesLaLe for 28 davs Lo quallfv
'reslduarv esLaLe' here means Lhe enLlre properLv of Lhe deceased less Lhe funeral and
admlnlsLraLlon expenses and anv debLs or oLher llablllLles lncurred bv Lhe deceased durlna hls
or her llfe urvlvlna Chlldren or broLhers and slsLers wlll ulLlmaLelv onlv affecL Lhe rlahLs of Lhe
survlvlna spouse lf Lhev aLLaln Lhe aae of 18 vears or marrv before LhaL aae
US: Dower and curtesy: strictly speaking the rules oI dower and curtesy are
not part oI the law oI descent and distribution. States which retain the
common-law rules oI descent and distribution and also the rights oI dower
and curtesy may disinherit a spouse Irom any interest in real estate on the
death oI the other spouse, except Ior the rights oI dower and curtesy.
Dower: dower is the interest that a wiIe has in her husband`s real estate, but
this only becomes eIIective on the death oI the husband. Usually the widow
has the right to the use or the right to the income Irom one-third oI her
husband`s real estate Ior as long as she lives. More than halI oI the states
have abolished the right to dower.
Curtesy: curtesy is the interest that a husband has in his wiIe`s real estate
eIIective on the death oI his wiIe and provided a child has been born to the
b) f Lhe lnLesLaLe leaves chlldren as well as Lhe survlvlna spouse Lhen he or she has an absoluLe
rlahL Lo recelve Lhe sum of L123000 (duLv free and bearlna lnLeresL unLll pavmenL) from Lhe
esLaLe or from Lhe proceeds of lLs sale Cf course Lhe pavmenL of Lhls sum or lndeed of onlv a
parL of lL wlll ofLen exhausL Lhe enLlre esLaLe and Lhere wlll be noLhlna for Lhe chlldren lurLher
ln all clrcumsLances Lhe survlvlna spouse ls absoluLelv enLlLled Lo Lhe 'personal chaLLels' of Lhe
deceased Moreover Lhe survlvlna spouse has a rlahL Lo have Lhe maLrlmonlal home
approprlaLed as parL of hls or her share of Lhe resldue 1he survlvlna spouse ls also enLlLled Lo
Lhe lncome produced bv half Lhe remalnder of Lhe reslduarv esLaLe durlna hls or her llfeLlme v
s 2 of Lhe nLesLaLes' LsLaLes AcL 1932 a survlvlna spouse mav upon alvlna noLlce Lo Lhe personal
represenLaLlves have Lhe llfe lnLeresL converLed Lo a lump sum L musL be reallzed LhaL where
Lhere are survlvlna chlldren as well as Lhe survlvlna spouse Lhe above provlslons operaLe ln
favour of Lhls hls or her lmmedlaLe famllv Lo Lhe compleLe excluslon of all oLher relaLlves
c) f Lhe lnLesLaLe leaves no chlldren buL leaves a survlvlna spouse and a survlvlna parenL or
parenLs or survlvlna borLhers or slsLers Lhen Lhe survlvlna spouse ls aL presenL enLlLled Lo
recelve Lhe sum of L200000and Lhe personal chaLLels Cnce more of course a smaller sum
Lhan Lhls wlll normallv exhausL Lhe esLaLe buL lf Lhere ls anv resldue afLer Lhese deducLlons have
been made Lhen Lhe spouse ls enLlLled Lo one half of lL absoluLelv
US: Only iI no children or grandchildren survive the decedent will a surviving
spouse receive the entire state. Under most state intestacy laws and under the UPC,
in-laws do not share in an estate. II a child dies beIore his or her parents, the
child`s spouse will not receive an inheritance on the parent`s death. When there is
not surviving spouse or child, the order oI inheritance is grandchildren, then
parents oI the decedent. These relatives are usually called lineal descendants. II
there are no lineal descendants, then collateral hers (brothers, sisters, nieces, uncles
oI the descendant) make up the next groups to share. II there are no survivors in
any oI these groups most statutes provide Ior the property to be distributed among
the next oI kin oI the collateral heirs.
A.... Survlvlnq chllJren
1he Lerm 'chlldren' here lncludes all chlldren wheLher lealLlmaLe lealLlmaLed adopLed or lllealLlmaLe
1helr rlahLs mav be summarlsed under Lhe followlna heads
a) Where Lhere ls a survlvlna spouse as well as a survlvlna chlld or chlldren n Lhe evenL LhaL a
resldue remalns afLer pavmenL of Lhe L123000 Lo whlch Lhe survlvlna spouse ls enLlLled Lhe half
of Lhe resldue Lo whlch lncome Lhe survlvlna spouse ls noL enLlLled wlll be held on Lhe 'sLaLuLorv
LrusLs' for Lhe chlldren AfLer Lhe deaLh of Lhe survlvlna spouse Lhe whole of Lhe remalnlna
resldue wlll be held on Lhe 'sLaLuLorv LrusLs' for Lhe survlvlna chlld of chlldren ln Lhe case of a
chlld who survlves Lhe lnLesLaLe buL dles before Lhe survlvlna spouse hls share wlll pass Lo hls
esLaLe provlded however LhaL such chlld musL have acqulred a vesLed lnLeresL before dvlna ln
order for a share of Lhe deceased's esLaLe Lo pass Lo hls own esLaLe CLherwlse hls share falls
lnLo Lhe common fund
b) Where Lhere ls a chlld or chlldren buL noL a survlvlna spouse Lhe reslduarv esLaLe ls held on Lhe
'sLaLuLorv LrusLs' for Lhe chlld or chlldren Pere 'reslduarv esLaLe' means Lhe enLlre reslduarv
esLaLe as above deflned All chlldren of elLher sex are enLlLled Lo equal shares ln lL
1he followlna furLher polnLs musL be noLed
l) Where a chlld dles before Lhe lnLesLaLe leavlna chlldren of hls own who survlve Lhe
lnLesLaLe Lhose chlldren are enLlLled Lo 'represenL' hlm le hls share of Lhe sLaLe ls dlvlded
beLween Lhem
US: iI a will does not provide Ior how the decedent`s estate will be
distributed to descendants oI deceased children (grandchildren), or iI a
person dies intestate, then a question arises as to what share the
grandchildren oI the decedent will receive. Each state designates one oI
two methods oI distributing the assets oI intestate decedents.
Under the per stirpes method oI dividing an intestate share, a class or
groups oI distributees (e.g. grandchildren) take the share that their
deceased parent would have been entitled to inherit had the parent lived.
An estate may also be distributed on a per capita basis. This means that
each person takes an equal share oI the estate.
ll) Wherever anvone who ls enLlLled Lo Lake upon lnLesLacv ls under Lhe aae of 18 Lhe ALA
provldes LhaL Lhe sLaLuLorv powers of 'malnLenance' and 'advancemenL' Lo one or more of
hls chlldren or has pald hlm or her monev for Lhe purpose of marrlaae 1hese pavmenLs
have Lo be Laken lnLo accounL ln assesslna Lhe share lf anv Lo whlch Lhe favoured chlld wlll
be enLlLled upon Lhe lnLesLacv unless Lhe clrcumsLances show LhaL Lhe lnLesLaLe dld noL
lnLend LhaL resulL
US: under intestacy laws, stepchildren are not considered kin. Legally adopted
children are, however, recognised as lawIul heirs oI their adoptive parents.
Whether an illegitimate child inherits depends on state statutes. In some states,
intestate succession between the Iather and the child can occur only when the child
has been legitimised by ceremony or acknowledged` by the Iather; in some cases,
such acknowledgement or recognition is only valid provided it is in writing. Under
the revised UPC, the same rule applies to intestate succession between the child
and the mother. The US Supreme Court has allowed state illegitimacy statutes to
stand, concluding that they serve legitimate state purposes. II the parents oI an
illegitimate child marry each other, the child inherits Irom both parents as though
legitimate. A Iew states also grant inheritance to a child Irom his Iather when he
has been adiudged in court to be the Iather oI the child. Oregon, the most liberal
state in this matter, treats illegitimates the same as legitimates under inheritance
A.... Survlvlnq purentx of the JeceuxeJ
a) Where Lhere are survlvlna chlldren of Lhe deceased hls or her parenLs wlll recelve noLhlna
b) Where Lhere ls a survlvlna spouse Lhe survlvlna parenLs wlll be enLlLled Lo share Lhe half of Lhe
resldue Lo whlch lncome Lhe survlvlna spouse ls noL enLlLled or lf onlv one parenL survlves he or
she wlll be absoluLelv enLlLled Lo all of lL
c) Where Lhere ls no survlvlna spouse and Lhere are no survlvlna chlldren Lhen Lhe enLlre reslduarv
esLaLe wlll be dlvlded equallv beLween Lhe survlvlna parenLs
Where Lhere are survlvlna parenLs broLhers and slsLers Lherefore have no clalm
A...4. Survlvlnq brotherx unJ xlxterx of the whole blooJ
a) Where Lhere are survlvlna chlldren Lhe survlvlna broLhers and slsLers wlll recelve noLhlna
b) Where Lhere ls a survlvlna spouse and a survlvlna parenL Lhe survlvlna broLhers and slsLers wlll
recelve noLhlna
c) Where Lhere ls a survlvlna spouse buL no survlvlna chlldren and no survlvlna parenLs sub[ecL Lo
Lhe rlahL of Lhe spouse Lo L200000 Lhe personal chaLLels and half of Lhe resldue Lhe remalnlna
half of Lhe resldue wlll be held on Lhe sLaLuLorv LrusLs for Lhe survlvlna broLhers and slsLers
d) Where Lhere ls no survlvlna spouse and Lhere are no survlvlna chlldren and no survlvlna
parenLs Lhe survlvlna broLhers and slsLers wlll be enLlLled Lo Lhe enLlre reslduarv esLaLe
rovlded LhaL aL leasL one of Lhese broLhers or slsLers of Lhe whole blood acqulres a vesLed lnLeresL all
oLher relaLlves wlll be excluded
nephews and nleces 'represenL' borLhers and slsLers who predecease Lhe lnLesLaLe ln Lhe same wav
LhaL arandchlldren represenL chlldren
A...5. Survlvlnq relutlonx of remoter Jeqree
f anv relaLlves lncluded ln caLeaorles 1 above survlve Lhe deceased provlded LhaL aL leasL one of
Lhem Lakes a vesLed lnLeresL he or Lhev exclude or relaLlves of remoLer dearee uL falllna Lhe survlval
of relaLlves lncluded ln caLeaorles 1 Lhen such relaLlves are enLlLled Lo Lake accordlna Lo Lhelr classes
ln Lhe followlna order of prlorlLv (each class excludlna oLher classes accordlna Lo LhaL order)
l) roLhers and slsLers of Lhe half blood upon Lhe sLaLuLorv LrusLs
US: there are diIIerent rules among the states concerning whether
collateral relatives oI the halI-blood (such as a halI-brother) share equally
with collateral relatives oI the whole blood. Most states provide that there
is no distinction and that relatives oI the halI-blood receive the same
treatment as relatives oI the whole blood. The other states limit the
inheritance oI relatives oI the halI-blood so that either (1) they take halI
as much as collateral reltaives oI the whole blood, or (2) relatives oI the
whole blood receive inheritances in preIerence to relatives oI the halI-
ll) randparenLs
lll) uncles and aunLs who are broLhers or slsLers of Lhe whole blood of a parenL of Lhe lnLesLaLe
lv) uncles and aunLs who are broLhers or slsLers of Lhe half blood of a parenL of Lhe lnLesLaLe
no one can be enLlLled Lo beneflL upon an lnLesLacv unless he elLher falls dlrecLlv wlLhln classes 13
above or represenLs some person who would have done so had he or she llved 1he rules applv ln cases
of parLlal lnLesLacv as well as cases of LoLal lnLesLacv as well as ln cases of LoLal lnLesLacv arLlal
lnLesLacv mav arlse where for lnsLance a LesLaLor onlv dlsposes of parL of hls esLaLe ln hls wlll Lhus
dvlna lnLesLaLe as Lo Lhe oLher parL
Where a person dles leavlna no relaLlves wlLhln Lhe prescrlbed caLeaorles Lhe esLaLe passes Lo Lhe
Crown absoluLelv buL 'ln accordance wlLh Lhe exlsLlna pracLlce Lhe Crown mav provlde for dependanLs
wheLher klndred or noL of Lhe lnLesLaLe and oLher persons for whom Lhe lnLesLaLe mlahL reasonablv
have been expecLed Lo make provlslon ouL of Lhe properLv'
US: iI aIter the lapse oI a certain time no heirs claim the estate oI a deceased
person, it passes to and becomes the property oI the state (or another unit oI
government). This is the doctrine oI escheat. It exists in all IiIty states, but the time
limit in which aIter discovered heirs may bring proceedings in order to recover
escheated property varies Irom three to seven years.
L musL be added LhaL ln cases of dlvorce or [udlclal separaLlon where one spouse dles lnLesLaLe Lhe
properLv wlll devolve as lf Lhe oLher parLv had been dead aL Lhe Llme of Lhe lnLesLaLe's decease Lhls
accords wlLh Lhe aeneral pollcv of Lhe ALA Lo alve effecL Lo presumed lnLenLlon 1he nherlLance AcL
1973 mav however be lnvoked
amily Provision
1he nherlLance (lamllv rovlslon) AcL 1938 permlLLed cerLaln dependanLs of deceased people Lo applv
for an order of Lhe courL Lo make reasonable provlslon for Lhem from Lhe 'deceased's' esLaLe lf he bv hls
wlll had falled Lo provlde lL 1he law on Lhls maLLer ls now aoverned bv Lhe nherlLance AcL 1973 Where
a person dles domlclled ln Lnaland and Wales and ls survlved bv a wlfe or husband a former spouse
who has noL remarrled a chlld anv person who was LreaLed bv Lhe deceased as a chlld of Lhe famllv ln
relaLlon Lo anv marrlaae of hls or anv person who lmmedlaLelv before Lhe deaLh of Lhe deceased was
belna malnLalned bv Lhe deceased (a 'dependanL') mav applv Lo Lhe courL for an order on Lhe around
LhaL Lhe dlsposlLlon of Lhe deceased's esLaLe effecLed bv hls wlll or Lhe law relaLlna Lo lnLesLacv ls noL
such as Lo make reasonable flnanclal provlslon for LhaL person L has been held LhaL 'wlfe' lncludes a
wlfe of a leaallv recoanlsed polvaamous unlon lnce 1 !anuarv 1996 a clalm mav be made bv anv
person who durlna Lhe whole perlod of Lwo vears endlna lmmedlaLelv before Lhe daLe when Lhe
deceased dled was llvlna ln Lhe same household as Lhe deceased and as husband or wlfe of Lhe
deceased v s a LlmellmlL of slx monLhs from Lhe daLe of Laklna ouL of represenLaLlon of Lhe esLaLe ls
normallv lmposed upon Lhe maklna of appllcaLlons 1here are sLrlnaenL provlslons deslanaLed (or
deslaned?????) Lo prevenL Lhe deceased from defeaLlna Lhe ob[ecLs of Lhe AcL
1he order mav be made under Lhe followlna clrcumsLances
n Lhe case of Lhe survlvlna spouse Lhe LesL ls reasonable flnanclal provlslon wheLher or noL Lhe
provlslon ls needed for Lhe spouse's malnLenance
lor oLher dependanLs Lhe provlslon musL be such as would be reasonable for Lhe appllcanL's
1he courL applles an ob[ecLlve sLandard based on Lhe appllcanL's resources and needs Lhe obllaaLlons
of Lhe deceased Lo Lhe appllcanL Lhe slze of Lhe deceased's esLaLe and anv phvslcal or menLal dlsablllLv
of Lhe appllcanL lurLher auldellnes are lald down ln relaLlon Lo speclflc appllcanLs
1he courL order for provlslon Lo be made ouL of Lhe neL esLaLe of Lhe deceased can Lake several forms
amona Lhem perlodlcal pavmenLs lump sum pavmenLs and Lransfer of properLv
dministration of stats

Prsonal Rprsntativs
A.... 1he nuture unJ purpoxe of reprexentutlon
LsLaLes are usuallv sub[ecL Lo Lwo prlnclpal classes of clalms Lhe clalms of beneflclarles on Lhe one hand
and of credlLors on Lhe oLher 1hese clalms ofLen confllcL and veL Lhev have somehow or oLher Lo be
meL Lnallsh law lnLerposes Lhe personal represenLaLlves beLween Lhe clalmanLs L ls Lhelr duLv Lo
admlnlsLer Lhe esLaLe bv pavlna credlLors collecLlna debLs and dlsLrlbuLlna Lhe asseLs Lo Lhe people
enLlLled under Lhe wlll or lnLesLacv 1he aeneral rule ls LhaL all Lhe properLv whlch Lhe deceased owned
aL hls deaLh vesLs ln Lhese represenLaLlves
A.... 1he Jutlex of perxonul reprexentutlvex
1he personal represenLaLlve of a deceased person shall be under a duLv Lo
a) CollecL and aeL ln Lhe esLaLe of Lhe deceased and admlnlsLer lL accordlna Lo law
b) When requlred Lo do so exhlblL on oaLh ln Lhe courL a full lnvenLorv of Lhe esLaLe and when so
requlred render an accounL of Lhe admlnlsLraLlon Lo Lhe courL
c) When requlred Lo do so bv Lhe Plah CourL dellver up Lhe aranL of probaLe or admlnlsLraLlon Lo
LhaL courL personal represenLaLlves wlll lncur no llablllLv and Lhe expenses of admlnlsLraLlon wlll
be borne bv Lhe esLaLe provlded LhaL Lhev admlnlsLer Lhe esLaLe properlv
A.... 1he cluxxex of perxonul reprexentutlvex
ersonal represenLaLlves who are appolnLed bv a LesLaLor ln hls wlll are called execuLors An execuLor ls
known ln law as a 'flduclarv' or 'leaal (onlv ln Lhe u?) represenLaLlve of an esLaLe' A LesLaLor mav
appolnL anv number buL probaLe wlll noL be aranLed Lo more Lhan four execuLors 1hev are usuallv
appolnLed expresslv buL someLlmes an appolnLmenL mav be lmplled as where a LesLaLor nomlnaLes a
parLlcular person Lo pav hls debLs n Lhe laLLer evenL Lhe execuLor ls known Lechnlcallv as an execotot
occotJloo to tbe teoot
US: the legal representative must be as honest, diligent and vigilant in
administering the aIIairs oI the estate as a reasonably prudent businessman would
be. He is not, however, an insurer oI the assets oI the estate. The compensation oI a
legal representative is Iixed by law in each state and varies Irom state to state. The
compensation is awarded by the court and is known as a commission. Rates oI
commission range Irom 1-1/2 to 5 per cent oI the total size oI the estate.
n Lhe evenL LhaL a person dles lnLesLaLe Lhe courL wlll appolnL a personal represenLaLlve who ls known
as an admlnlsLraLor
Lven Lhouah Lhere ls a wlll admlnlsLraLors mav someLlmes have Lo be appolnLed as well llrsLlv where
Lhere ls a wlll buL for some reason Lhere are no execuLors or Lhe people named as such decllne Lo acL
someone musL be appolnLed Lo acL as personal represenLaLlve 1hese people when appolnLed are
known as admlnlsLraLors cum LesLamenLo annexo (wlLh Lhe wlll annexed) econdlv mlnors cannoL acL
as represenLaLlves and lL follows LhaL lf a mlnor ls appolnLed bv wlll Lhere musL be someone Lo acL for
hlm such a person ls known as an admlnlsLraLor duranLe mlnore aeLaLe (durlna mlnorlLv) 1hlrdlv lf
Lhere ls a dlspuLe abouL Lhe valldlLv of a wlll clearlv an execuLor appolnLed ln Lhe wlll cannoL Lake offlce
n Lhls case an admlnlsLraLor pendenLe llLe (durlna Lhe llLlaaLlon) has Lo be appolnLed An admlnlsLraLor
of Lhls laLLer class mav proceed wlLh Lhe admlnlsLraLlon of Lhe esLaLe buL he musL noL dlsLrlbuLe Lhe
US: the names in Latin Ior the diIIerent classes oI personal representatives (in the
US a.k.a. legal representatives) do not seem to be used in the United States.
Where an execuLor dles ln Lhe course of admlnlsLraLlon hls own execuLor wlll Lake hls place f however
he dles wlLhouL appolnLlna an execuLor Lhere ls no one Lo succeed hlm and an admlnlsLraLor de bonls
non admlnlsLraLes (of Lhe unadmlnlsLered esLaLe) musL Lherefore be appolnLed Where an admlnlsLraLor
of Lhe esLaLe of an lnLesLaLe dles a new admlnlsLraLor musL be speclflcallv appolnLed
A...4. Probute unJ letterx of uJmlnlxtrutlon
1he rlahL of Lhe execuLor Lo dlspose of Lhe esLaLe ls noL fullv esLabllshed unLll he has obLalned a aranL of
probaLe of Lhe wlll 1he mere exlsLence of a wlll mav mean noLhlna for lL mav noL be a valld wlll or lL
mav noL be Lhe lasL wlll 'robaLe' ls offlclal accepLance of Lhe auLhenLlclLv of Lhe wlll and offlclal
sancLlon of Lhe execuLor's rlahL Lo acL 1he word probaLe ls however ofLen used Lo cover boLh probaLe
Anu leLLers of admlnlsLraLlon robaLe mav be obLalned ln Lwo wavs ln 'common form' or ln 'solemn
form' 1he former meLhod ls more usual 1he process bealns when Lhe LxecuLor approaches Lhe 8ealsLrv
of Lhe lamllv ulvlslon of Lhe Plah CourL and requesLs Lo 'open probaLe' le Lo sLarL Lhe successlon
process 1he procedure ls for Lhe execuLor Lo applv elLher Lo Lhe prlnclpal realsLrv of Lhe lamllv ulvlslon
of Lhe Plah CourL aL omerseL Pouse or Lo a ulsLrlcL 8ealsLrv Pe musL produce Lhe wlll an affldavlL
called Lhe 'execuLor's oaLh' and an nland 8evenue AccounL 1he 'oaLh' ls ln effecL a promlse bv Lhe
execuLor Lo admlnlsLer Lhe esLaLe accordlna Lo law and Lo follow Lhe wlshes of Lhe deceased 1he
accounL conLalns parLlculars of Lhe properLv comprlsed ln Lhe esLaLe whlch enable Lhe nland 8evenue
Commlssloners Lo assess Lhe esLaLe duLv pavable f Lhese documenLs are ln order esLaLe duLv ls pald
Lhere are no challenaes and Lhe courL conslders Lhe wlll a valld wlll Lhe CourL wlll probaLe/prove Lhe wlll
//'probaLe' wlll be aranLed and a copv of Lhe wlll wlll be handed Lo Lhe execuLor Lhe orlalnal ls reLalned
aL Lhe realsLrv
'robaLe' ln 'common form' ls aranLed much as a maLLer of course f however Lhere ls anv serlous
dlspuLe for lnsLance as Lo Lhe valldlLv of Lhe wlll probaLe ln 'solemn form' wlll have Lo be obLalned
whlch enLalls Lhe hearlna of evldence and amounLs ln effecL Lo an acLlon
LeLLers of admlnlsLraLlon are aranLed ln much Lhe same wav as probaLe An helr (usuallv a close relaLlve
of Lhe decedenL) wlll approach Lhe lamllv ulvlslon of Lhe Plah CourL Cnce he ls appolnLed Lhe
admlnlsLraLor musL presenL a sLaLemenL savlna Lhere ls no wlll LoaeLher wlLh Lhe nland 8evenue
AccounL whlch wlll be used Lo calculaLe Lhe esLaLe duLv pavable 1here ls however one subsLanLlal
dlfference ln Lhe procedure An execuLor ls a person ln whom Lhe LesLaLor has reposed confldence and
admlnlsLraLor ls noL Lherefore Lhe Plah CourL ov requlre one or more sureLles (ln pracLlce usuallv
lnsurance companles) Lo make aood wlLhln anv llmlL lmposed bv Lhe courL anv loss whlch anv person
lnLeresLed mav suffer ln consequence of a breach of hls duLles bv Lhe admlnlsLraLor n Lhe pasL Lhe
admlnlsLraLor had Lo enLer lnLo an 'admlnlsLraLlon bond' wherebv Lhe admlnlsLraLor underLook Lo pav
Lhe rlnclpal 8ealsLrar double Lhe aross value of Lhe esLaLe lf Lhev falled Lo admlnlsLer lL accordlna Lo
US: probate procedures vary, depending on the size oI the decedent`s estate.
i) InIormal probate proceedings: Ior smaller estates, most state statutes provide Ior
the distribution oI assets without Iormal probate proceedings. Faster and less
expensive methods are then used, such as aIIidavits or Iorms (e.g. to transIer title
to cars). A maiority oI the states also provide Ior Iamily settlement agreements,
which are private agreements among the beneIiciaries. Once a will is admitted to
probate, the Iamily members can agree to settle among themselves the distribution
oI the decedent`s assets. A court order must be issued, however, in order to protect
the estate Irom Iuture creditors and clear title to the assets involved. The use oI
these and other types oI summary procedures in estate administration can save time
and money.

ii) Formal probate proceedings: Ior larger estates, Iormal probate proceedings are
normally undertaken. The executor institutes in a probate court a probate
proceeding: an application to establish a document as the authoritative, Iinal, and
oIIicial will oI the deceased person. The probate oI a will is a iudicial proceeding
in which the heirs receive notice that the will has been Iiled in court and that the
court will be asked to establish it as the valid will oI the decedent. The probate
court supervises every aspect oI the settlement oI the decedent`s estate. The heirs
are required at this time either to consent to or to oppose the probate.
II the probate is not contested, the iudge oI the probate court will hear the
testimony oI the witnesses to the will concerning its proper execution; then, iI the
will complies with the statutory requirements, it will be admitted to probate. II the
will and the probate proceedings are contested, the court conducts a hearing and
decides whether or not there are valid legal obiections to the will.
In some situations (such as those involving the appointment oI a guardian Ior a
minor or the creation oI a trust) more Iormal probate procedures cannot be
Formal probate proceedings may take several months to complete, and as a result,
a sizable portion oI the decedent`s assets (up to perhaps 10 per cent) may go
toward payment oI Iees charged by attorneys and personal representatives, as well
as court costs.

Interpreting and construing wills: whenever he or she desires, an interested party
may ask the probate court to construe and interpret a will. In a construction
proceeding it is the court`s duty Iirst to examine the will and then, iI possible, to
determine its meaning. In some cases the court also takes evidence to aid in
construction oI a will.
Property transIers outside the probate process: commonly, beneIiciaries under a
will must wait until the probate process is complete to have access to money or
other assets received under a will. For this and other reasons, some persons arrange
to have property transIerred in ways other than by will and outside the probate
A...5. ho muy be uppolnteJ
robaLe wlll noL be aranLed elLher Lo a mlnor or Lo more Lhan four execuLors L ls usual however Lo
appolnL more Lhan one for lL ls open Lo an execuLor Lo refuse Lo acL
1he appolnLmenL of admlnlsLraLors ls wlLhln Lhe dlscreLlon of Lhe courL and 8ules of CourL prescrlbe an
order of prlorlLv of cholce 1hls order rouahlv follows Lhe order of prlorlLv of persons enLlLled Lo Lake
upon an lnLesLacv Lhouah someLlmes a credlLor mav be appolnLed
1he maxlmum number of admlnlsLraLors ls four
A...6. 1he powerx unJ llubllltlex of perxonul reprexentutlvex
ersonal represenLaLlves are alven absoluLe powers of dlsposlna of Lhe properLv for Lhe purpose of
admlnlsLraLlon v law personal represenLaLlves are offlclallv allowed one vear from Lhe deaLh ln whlch
Lo wlnd up Lhe esLaLe buL Lhe courLs wlll noL Lle Lhem sLrlcLlv Lo Lhls perlod 1hus lf anv credlLor or
beneflclarv complalns LhaL he has suffered on accounL of delav ln dlsLrlbuLlon bevond Lhe 'execuLor's
vear' he wlll have Lo prove LhaL Lhls delav was Lhe resulL of some nealecL on Lhe parL of Lhe personal
1he llablllLv of personal represenLaLlves ls ln aeneral llmlLed bv Lhe value of Lhe esLaLe 1hev are
however ln a slmllar poslLlon Lo LrusLees and lf Lhev do anvLhlna unlawful Lhev mav be personallv
dministration of ssts
Pavlna descrlbed Lhe naLure of personal represenLaLlves we are now ln a poslLlon Lo conslder Lhelr
duLles 1hev aenerallv admlnlsLer Lhe esLaLe Lhemselves (usuallv Lhrouah a sollclLor) wlLhouL
lnLerference f however someone lnLeresLed ln Lhe esLaLe ls dlssaLlsfled wlLh Lhe admlnlsLraLlon he
mav bv an 'admlnlsLraLlve acLlon' applv for Lhe admlnlsLraLlon bv Lhe courL f Lhe esLaLe ls 'solvenL' lL
wlll Lhen be admlnlsLered ln Lhe Chancerv ulvlslon of Lhe Plah CourL f lL ls 'lnsolvenL' lL mav be
admlnlsLered elLher ln Lhe Chancerv ulvlslon or ln Lhe ankrupLcv CourL
1he four maln duLles of personal represenLaLlves are
1) 1o collecL all debLs due Lo Lhe esLaLe
2) 1o pav Lhe debLs and saLlsfv Lhe llablllLles of Lhe esLaLe
3) 1o converL unauLhorlsed lnvesLmenLs lnLo auLhorlsed ones Lhouah Lhev almosL lnvarlablv have
power Lo posLpone Lhls
) 1o dlsLrlbuLe Lhe remalnder of Lhe properLv accordlna Lo Lhe wlll or Lo Lhe rules of lnLesLacv
1he esLaLe mav be 'lnsolvenL' le noL larae enouah Lo saLlsfv all credlLors ln full ln Lhls case of course Lhe
beneflclarles can hope for noLhlna Cn Lhe oLher hand Lhouah lL ls 'solvenL' (le Lhe credlLors can all be
saLlsfled) lL mav be lnsufflclenL Lo meeL Lhe clalms of all beneflclarles n elLher case rules of law have
had Lo be provlded Lo aovern Lhe confllcLlna rlahLs of clalmanLs so as Lo deLermlne who wlll be pald and
who wlll noL 1he personal represenLaLlve cannoL lanore knowledae of [usL debLs owed bv Lhe deceased
Lo oLher persons AfLer clalms are presenLed Lhe leaal represenLaLlve musL lnvesLlaaLe Lhem and saLlsfv
hlmself LhaL Lhev are valld f he doubLs Lhe valldlLv of a clalm he wlll have Lo presenL Lhe maLLer Lo Lhe
probaLe courL
US: the legal representative not only takes the assets into his possession but he
must also obtain Iull inIormation regarding the assets. He should prepare a
complete inventory oI the decedent`s assets as soon as possible. The legal
representative oI the estate must open a bank account in the name oI the estate and
must transIer the decedent`s bank accounts to his own name, as executor or
administrator. The problems oI taking possession oI assets are many. In reducing
estate monies to his possession, the legal representative must keep the Iunds and
the property received separate Irom his own personal Iunds and property. He must
make sure that all Iunds are deposited in his name as executor or as administrator.
The legal representative must keep a record oI all receipts and disbursements in
order to be prepared to make a Iinal account oI his stewardship. In the case oI
sizeable estates the legal representative may employ a bookkeeper or an accountant
to keep the books Ior him.

A.... Inxolvent extutex
Where Lhe esLaLe ls lnsufflclenL Lo meeL Lhe clalms of credlLors ln full Lhe followlna rules applv
1) luneral expenses LesLamenLarv expenses and Lhe cosLs of admlnlsLraLlon have flrsL prlorlLv
2) uebLs have nexL prlorlLv 1hev have Lo be pald ln a prescrlbed order
a) referred debLs rank flrsL Lxamples of Lhese are arrears of raLes and Laxes for anv one vear
b) Crdlnarv debLs Lhese are debLs whlch are nelLher 'preferred' nor 'deferred'
c) ueferred debLs examples of Lhese are clalms for monev lenL bv a husband Lo hls wlfe for
buslness purposes and bv a wlfe Lo her husband for anv purposes (uL1 1C L Au Cn
ecured credlLors are also enLlLled Lo speclal rlahLs
f Lhe esLaLe ls lnsufflclenL Lo saLlsfv Lhe clalms of all credlLors ln anv one class Lhese clalms musL be
usuallv cuL down proporLlonaLelv accordlna Lo Lhelr respecLlve accounLs
A.... Solvent extutex
Lven Lhouah an esLaLe ls 'solvenL' Lhere mav noL be enouah Lo pav Lhe beneflclarles ln full 1he credlLors
musL of course be pald somehow L ls Lherefore essenLlal Lo know Lhe order ln whlch Lhe beneflclarles
are Lo lose Lhelr rlahLs so LhaL Lhe credlLors mav be saLlsfled 1he rules aovernlna Lhe order ln whlch
debLs are pavable are Lhe same as Lhose applvlna ln cases of bankrupLcv ndeed Lhe onlv dlfference
from Lhe order of pavmenL ln bankrupLcv ls LhaL Lhe personal represenLaLlves have Lo pav Lhe funeral
and LesLamenLarv expenses before all oLher debLs
1he funeral LesLamenLarv and admlnlsLraLlon expenses and Lhe debLs are Lo be pald ouL of Lhe followlna
funds ln Lhe followlna order
a) llrsL resorL ls Lo be had Lo anv properLv ln Lhe esLaLe whlch ls undlsposed of bv wlll sub[ecL Lo
Lhe reLenLlon of a fund Lo meeL pecunlarv leaacles
b) nexL Lo anv properLv lncluded ln a 'reslduarv' alfL sub[ecL Lo Lhe reLenLlon of a fund Lo meeL Lhe
balance of Lhe pecunlarv leaacles
c) nexL Lo properLv speclflcallv approprlaLed bv Lhe LesLaLor for Lhe pavmenL of debLs
d) nexL Lo properLv lefL bv Lhe LesLaLor sub[ecL Lo a charae for Lhe pavmenL of debLs
e) nexL Lo Lhe fund lf anv reLalned Lo meeL pecunlarv leaacles
f) nexL Lo properLv speclflcallv devlsed or bequeaLhed raLeablv accordlna Lo value
a) llnallv Lo properLv appolnLed bv wlll under a aeneral power raLeablv accordlna Lo value 1hls
class of properLv comes lasL because ln a sense lL ls noL reallv Lhe LesLaLor's 'own' Lo dlspose of
Lhouah he ls free Lo do so lL comes Lo hlm from elsewhere
L ls provlded LhaL Lhls order of appllcaLlon mav be varled bv Lhe wlll of Lhe deceased 1hus lf a LesLaLor
shows a cleot lnLenLlon LhaL a speclal fund of Lx shall be seL aslde for pavmenL of debLs ln exoneraLlon of
all oLher funds Lhls fund wlll be llable flrsL even before properLv ln caLeaorv (a)
uch Lhen ls Lhe order ln whlch beneflclarles are llable Lo lose Lhelr lnLeresLs L onlv remalns Lo be
noLlced LhaL lL mav someLlmes happen LhaL an lnLeresL of a lower caLeaorv ls dlsposed of ln favour of
credlLors before an lnLeresL of a hlaher caLeaorv n such a slLuaLlon Lhe docLrlne of marshalllna of asseLs
comes lnLo plav 1hls means LhaL a beneflclarv who loses properLv of a 'lower' caLeaorv Lo whlch he ls
enLlLled mav recoup hls loss bv clalmlna Lo be lndemnlfled ouL of undlsposed properLv Lo whlch
someone else 'hlaher' on Lhe llsL ls enLlLled 1he docLrlne of marshalllna ls Lhus an appllcaLlon of Lhe
prlnclple LhaL whaLever Lhe meLhod of dlsLrlbuLlon Lhe prescrlbed order wlll alwavs be observed
ransfr of Proprty to Bnficiaris
1he flnal duLv of personal represenLaLlves ls Lo Lransfer Lhe approprlaLe properLv Lo Lhe approprlaLe
buslness 1he rule ls LhaL Lhe represenLaLlves musL assenL Lo Lhe Lransfer n respecL of anv properLv
oLher Lhan land Lhe assenL requlres no speclal formallLv and lL need noL be ln wrlLlna lL ls ofLen Lhe
case however LhaL Lhe assenL wlll be effecLed ln wrlLlna (ln Lhe form of ea a recelpL or a wrlLLen
sLaLemenL) so as Lo keep recordhares mav be Lransferred bv execuLlna a Lransfer Lo Lhe beneflclarv
Where however lL ls deslred Lo Lransfer Lhe leaal esLaLe ln land Lhe assenL shall be ln wrlLlna slaned bv
Lhe personal represenLaLlve and shall name Lhe person ln whose favour lL ls alven An assenL noL ln
wrlLlna shall noL be effecLual Lo pass a leaal esLaLe 1hls requlremenL musL alwavs be saLlsfled and lL ls
of cardlnal lmporLance ln convevanclna 1he reason for Lhls ls LhaL a purchaser from Lhe beneflclarv who
has obLalned such an assenL need noL and musL noL examlne Lhe wlll ln order Lo assume hlmself LhaL
Lhe vendor ls enLlLled All he needs Lo see ls Lhe assenL
US: today, an important aspect oI estate administration is the Iiling oI estate tax
returns. There are two basic kinds oI inheritance and estate taxes: state and Iederal.
State and Iederal income tax returns are relatively straightIorward documents
compared with inheritance and estate tax returns. Estate tax returns contain many
details, such as schedules oI real estate, stocks and bonds, mortgages and so on.
In an estate tax proceeding, the appraisal oI the assets is the basis Ior the tax on the
property. II the decedent died aIter 1986, a Iederal estate tax return does not have
to be Iiled unless the gross value oI the estate exceeds $600,000.
The legal representative oI an estate may employ agents and others to assist him
with the administrative work oI the estate and may employ attorneys to advise
them about his rights and duties. In most cases, those employed by the legal
representative Ior this purpose are entitled to compensation Irom estate Iunds.
Whenever the legal representative Ieels that a charge Ior legal services is not
property, he may ask the probate court to determine the amount to be allowed to
the representative Ior counsel Iees.
Distribute the estate to beneIiciaries: aIter all the Ioregoing steps have been taken
and aIter all inheritance and estate taxes have been paid, the legal representative is
ready to distribute the assets oI the estate to the beneIiciaries. When a Iederal estate
tax return is required, the Internal Revenue Service usually takes a minimum oI
one year to audit it. This year, added to the 9 months allowed Ior preparation and
Iiling oI the Iederal estate tax return, means that estates oI more than $600,000 are
very diIIicult to distribute completely beIore at least two years aIter the decedent`s
Judicial approval oI a legal representative`s accounts: aIter he has completed his
duties, the legal representative should Iile with the probate court an account setting
Iorth all assets that he has received, all debts and administration expenses that he
has paid, and showing the balance on hand Ior distribution. The accounting is the
Iinal act oI the legal representative; it discharges his responsibility to the estate. In
this proceeding, he accounts Ior his acts in administering the aIIairs oI the estate,
and the court directs the manner in which the assets remaining in the legal
representative`s control are to be distributed.
Settlement oI Estate without Accounting: where there are no disputes between the
parties, an estate may be settled by written agreement rather than by an accounting
proceeding. In such a case, the executor sets Iorth in the agreement what he has
accomplished. Then the consenting parties acknowledge receipt oI their respective
distributive shares and release and discharge the legal representative Irom all legal
liability and responsibility Ior his acts.