The administration of the estate of a deceased is regulated by the relevant law which provides who can be appointed as the administrator, whether with or without a will annexed, the powers and duties of the administrator and the probate registrar, how the estate will be administered and distributed between the beneficiaries and how the debts of the deceased shall be paid. Prior to the issue of the probate order, the administrator must provide the court with information regarding the heirs and the beneficiaries of the deceased, an estimate of the estate, movable, immovable property and debts and a written declaration by the heirs or beneficiaries consenting to his appointment.
Where the court considers it necessary, it requires publication in a daily newspaper or even in the official gazette, so that any interested person to be informed of the application for the appointment of the administrator. Moreover, the administrator must sign a bond for double the value of the estate together with a guarantor of his that he will execute his duties in accordance with the law and the will of the deceased. A temporary tax release certificate is also necessary for the issue of the probate order.
Having obtained the probate order, an administrator is obliged to file in court an inventory of the estate accompanied by an affidavit and he shall, in administering the estate, obtain the tax release certificate and pay any tax if payable. His main duties are to collect and get the estate, pay the funeral and testamentary expenses, pay all the just debts of the deceased in the order of priority set out in the law, have the residue of the estate carefully valued, if it appears necessary to do so, reduce the legacies proportionally, if it appears that the testator has disposed by a will of more than the disposable portion and distribute the statutory portion and the undisposed portion according to the law.
After payment of the funeral and other incidental expenses, including the administrator’s reasonable expenses, the just debts of the deceased shall be liquidated by the administrator in the following order of priority: the expenses of the medical treatment of the deceased during his last illness and the wages due to the domestic servants of the deceased, not exceeding six months’ wages; secured debts according to the order of the priority; any other debt.
Where there are no adequate funds in the estate to pay the debts, taxes and other obligations, the administrator has to apply to the court for directions and an order as to whether he will sell, mortgage or lease a part of the estate to cover the amounts due. Before the court issues the order, it must be satisfied that there is such a need for the administrator to dispose or charge a part of the estate, facilitating the distribution of the estate among the beneficiaries. For this purpose, the administrator must serve the application to the heirs and submit a valuation report to the court regarding the value of the part of the estate to be disposed.
However, the administrator may, with the written consent of all the heirs and without applying to the court, sell or dispose of any part or even the whole of the estate not only to cover the debts or to protect the value of a perishable property but also to facilitate the distribution of the property among the heirs. The issue depends on how the interests of the estate are properly safeguarded and how the beneficiaries will decide for their benefit.
For an administration to be considered as completed, the administrator must submit to the probate registrar the final accounts with the necessary documents, details and receipts accompanied with a writer declaration signed by the heirs and the beneficiaries stating that they have received their inheritance right. The probate registrar examines the final accounts and provided the administration has been properly executed, he releases the administrator from his duties.
George Coucounis is a lawyer specialising in the Immovable Property Law, based in Larnaca, Tel: 24 818288, [email protected], www.coucounislaw.com