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The trustee executor has a duty to consider specific requests for disclosure of documents from the beneficiaries.
There is no one universal rule that says you must or must not disclose information.
There is no "right" as such for any of the beneficiaires to see documents.
However, they have a legitimate expectation to see them, and it therefore comes down to the exercise of discretion on a case by case basis.
OK, thanks. I have a potential problem in that I have 1 beneficiary who has been given a fixed sum of money (the same as 4 others of similar family status) but whose expectations are much higher.
And so there is a clear intention on the part of the particular beneficiary to challenge the will or his/her entitlement under it?
He has been asking where the other money is going, why there are 2 executors, what is happening to the house. His relationship with the deceased is nephew and he has no financial support ongoing from the deceased and he did not live with her.
Okay. Is he questionning whether you're discharging your duties properly in effect, by querying where the funds are going?
He has no done that as yet, he has just made the queries set out above to my wife who has said she cannot discuss as she is not the Executor. I'm just trying to ensure that I follow the correct course of action to minimise any potential cost to the estate. There are some 11 beneficiaries, 5 with fixed monetary sums and then 6 (closer relatives) with equal residual benefits.
Okay. As residual beneficiary, he/she is likely to have a greater right to see such things as the estate accounts, as the residuary beneficiaries bear the costs of the administration of the estate and are entitled to know that the estate has been properly administered. Thus, the accounts that you're required to keep under s.25 Administration of Estates Act 1925 are likely to be ordered to be disclosed by a court to a residuary beneficiary if there were an application made for them, in context of what appeared to be a potential challenge concerning the proper adminstration of the estate.
So if he is going down this route, it may be sensible to disclose them.
He is not one of the Residuals, he has a fixed sum of money.
Oh, I'm sorry, in that case he is likely to have less right to see the accounts providing that his interest if paid out in full.
At the end of the day, if he gets what he was entitled to, there can be no issue that interests him beyond that.
The residuary beneficiaries have a different interest though, of course, and their rights are more extensive in that sense.
That's the position as I understood it, as I said just making sure that I minimise any costs to the estate. Would it be advisable to disclose the full will to him (provided others agree) or to insist that he waits for Probate & publication?
I see no obvious reason he should get the will at this stage. That said, if it does become difficult, the reality is that it will become public in any event and so long as nobody else has an issue with it, then I see no reason not to disclose it. But there is no reason he should not wait in the usual way based on what's been said. If he wanted to make a dependency claim, then that might be different, but there is no suggestion of that here.
Fine. Thanks for that, we'll se how it goes. Cheerio.
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