To many, estate administration disputes can seem Pythonesque – gravely serious yet often comedic in their depth and nature. They are, however, stressful in equal measure to all concerned. Thankfully, there is an economic and swift solution to resolving a range of disputes. This process is called: Estate Account Assessment.
In estate administrations, the position of a beneficiary is often bewildering, and for Personal Representatives, it can be, burdensome. The mix frequently results in dispute over the manner in which the estate administration is conducted, with the parties often left floundering for resolution. Part 10 of the Qld Supreme Court Rules is an economic way to resolve these disputes through a quasi – judicial process. Part 10 provides a simple legislative mechanism for both Beneficiaries and Personal Representatives alike, to have their concerns about the conduct of an estate administration aired and resolved. This process is called Estate Account Assessment. Its name can be misleading as many think it only relates to the financials of an estate. It, in fact, includes all aspects of how the estate is managed.
Christine Smyth is a Qld Supreme Court appointed Estate Account Assessor. Where a beneficiary is unhappy with the way an estate is being managed, or a Person Representative is concerned as to the criticisms they may subject to in their conduct of the estate administration, then either one can request the Court to appoint Christine to conduct an independent review of the estate administration with a view to making recommendations as to how it can be progressed and/or address irregularities. This process can speed up lagging estate administrations and/or identify misfeasance and resolve disputes between the parties. Through her independent review process, stressful and expensive estate litigation can be minimised if not avoided.
Part 10 proscribes a formal process where the manner in which a deceased estate trust is administered can be considered in a structured way through the oversight of the court, whilst also establishing the process, procedure and applicable factors to claims for executor’s commission, which form part of the estate administration process.
The Estate Account Administration process is quasi-judicial, with the Estate Account Assessor having powers akin to a Registrar including the power to determine the process (subject to direction from the Court).
It is can be used as both a shield and a sword, providing a process for beneficiaries and trustees alike to pass the estate accounts.
A Beneficiary may utilise the Part as a sword by empowering a beneficiary to hold the Personal Representative to account in a formal and relatively economic way. Conversely, it can be used as a shield by a Personal Representative. The Personal Representative can simply apply to the court, ex parte seeking an order for the appointment of an estate account assessor to assess and pass the estate accounts. Through this the Personal Representative gains the imprimatur of the court as to its conduct in the estate administration.
Ordinarily the costs of the process are born by the estate (subject to the court ordering otherwise). It is important to note that only beneficiaries and Personal Representatives of the estate are entitled to apply to the court for this process.
If you would like to know more, please call us on (07) 5529 4548.