Personal representatives—protection and relief from liability
Personal representatives—protection and relief from liability

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

  • Personal representatives—protection and relief from liability
  • Protection of personal representatives
  • Protection against claims by unknown beneficiaries/creditors
  • Protection against claims by known but missing beneficiaries/creditors
  • SRA Accounts Rules, rule 5.1(c)
  • Presumption of death application
  • Family provision claims
  • Future and contingent liabilities
  • Contingent inheritance tax liabilities
  • Relief from liability
  • More...

Personal representatives (PRs) should not generally find themselves liable for losses to the estate and it is possible to take actions to protect themselves from the consequences of a mistake. Equally, if they have found themselves liable to beneficiaries or the estate there may be actions that can be taken to relieve them from that liability.

Protection of personal representatives

A major problem that PRs may face, whether they were appointed by the deceased’s Will or have been appointed on an intestacy, is a claim against them from a beneficiary who appears after the distribution of the estate or is basically unknown to the PRs or any family members before distribution. For instance, a gift to children may be obvious but the deceased may have had another child or children entirely unknown to the PRs and undiscoverable by standard enquiries (eg because none of the deceased’s family are aware of the child’s existence). On an intestacy, the risks may be greater given that a family tree will have to be created to discover the entitled beneficiaries and the more remote the list the harder it is to be sure that all potential beneficiaries have been ascertained.

Consequently, PRs must remain aware of the potential for missing or just generally unknown beneficiaries who need to be considered. See Practice Note: Missing beneficiaries and intestacy with no surviving relatives.


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