Administration actions—personal representatives and the deceased's liabilities
Administration actions—personal representatives and the deceased's liabilities

The following Wills & Probate guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Administration actions—personal representatives and the deceased's liabilities
  • Personal contracts
  • Freehold land and buildings
  • Taxation
  • Will contracts and promises
  • Leasehold property
  • Shares
  • Partnership matters
  • Guarantees
  • Subsisting claims

During the lifetime of the testator they will enter in obligations in respect of contracts, covenants, debts, duties etc. Generally these obligations will subsist after their death and while their personal representative (PR) will not be a party to those matters, those obligations can remain enforceable against the estate in the hands of the PR. It is as well that PRs understand and check for their potential liabilities to avoid litigation (Hambly v Trott (1776) 1 Cowp 371).

The effect of this survival of obligations depends on the form of obligations involved.

Personal contracts

The general rule is that the death of one of the parties to a contract does not discharge the contract. Where the contract is of a personal nature, the general rule does not apply. This is predicated on the assumption that there has been no breach of that contract prior to death.

Where, however, there is already a subsisting right of action for breach of contract, the death of either party disapplies the rule.

The effect of the general rule can be illustrated as follows:

  1. an agreement between an employer and employee is determined by the death of either

  2. an artistic agreement is terminated by the death of the author or artist

Even though the contract may be ended, the entitlement to any unpaid and due remuneration earned by the