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Can personal representatives claim for expenses in probate?

5 May 2021

A personal representative (PR) is someone who has legal authority to administer an estate after someone’s death. This could be an executor (if appointed to act under a will) or an administrator (if there is no will).

PRs will usually incur a number of expenses while dealing with the deceased person’s estate. Examples of expenses that may arise are:

  • Funeral costs
  • Probate fees
  • Tax payments to HMRC
  • Insurance premiums
  • Solicitors’ fees (if instructed to assist with the administration of the estate)
  • Costs associated with the sale of a property

The general rule is that reasonable expenses incurred by PRs, as part of their role in administering the deceased’s estate, should be reimbursed by the estate. There is no prescribed amount for what is considered a ‘reasonable’ expense and it will depend on the facts of each case, including the size and complexity of the estate.

PRs should always have at the forefront of their minds that they have a duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries of the estate. The beneficiaries are the people who ultimately inherit from the estate once all the liabilities have been paid and they can pursue a claim against the PRs if they have made payments from the estate which a court would consider unreasonable.

So where can you find details of the expenses incurred by the PRs? These should be clearly set out in the estate accounts, which should be circulated to, and approved by, the beneficiaries.

If you are a PR of an estate and have concerns as to whether an expense constitutes a ‘reasonably incurred estate expense’, you can contact one of our team, who can also advise on most appropriate steps to take. Alternatively, if you are a beneficiary of an estate and are concerned that the PRs are acting in breach of their duties or they are incurring unreasonable expenses, we can also advise on the best way forward for you.

Contact our wills, trusts and probate team for more help and advice.