Following someone’s death, their personal representative will wind up the estate and then prepare estate accounts. These accounts will include details of all the assets and liabilities in the estate.
When you make a Will, you will appoint someone to act as your executor. They will be responsible for collecting all of the assets in your estate; valuing them, insuring them where necessary, clearing and selling or transferring any property, and paying off debts, including calculating and paying Inheritance Tax. As well as preparing full estate accounts and finally distributing your estate to the named beneficiaries.
It is a complex and time-consuming job and when you select someone to take on this role you should ensure that they are willing as well as capable. If you have not made a Will, then someone will need to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Letters of Administration, giving authority for them to act in a similar capacity as your administrator.
What goes in estate accounts?
The personal representative, either the executor or administrator, has a duty to provide a full inventory of the contents of the estate if required to do so by the court. As well as a full account of the estate administration, referred to as estate accounts.
The accounts will start with a summary page, with details of the deceased’s name, date of death, date of any Will, the name of the personal representative and the names of the beneficiaries and the legacies they have left.
All of the estate’s assets will be listed, including money, property, valuables and other personal possessions and they should all be valued.
Similarly, all the estate debts should be included. These could be tax liabilities, credit card debts, loans and mortgages.
These figures will be needed at the start of the administration process, to enable the personal representative to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Representation, authorising them to wind up the estate.
The accounts should include details of any Inheritance Tax which is due. Along with any exemptions which apply, such as spousal exemption, any nil-rate band or transferrable nil-rate band, residential nil-rate band or transferrable residential nil-rate band or charitable exemption.
A capital account will also be needed, with details of any change in the value of the estate during the administration period. This could also include any over- or under-estimated values. Estate income and any interest paid to the estate should be included, along with administrative expenses. This could include accountancy fees, estate agency fees if a property is sold and Probate Registry fees.
Finally, the distribution account will show how the estate is distributed to the beneficiaries named in the Will.
Dealing with the administration of an estate is an onerous job which can take many months or even years to complete. If errors are made, the personal representative can be held personally liable, even if it was a genuine mistake.
For this reason, it is often preferable to appoint a professional to deal with the winding-up of an estate, as they will be used to preparing estate accounts.