How is the estate of a deceased individual administered and who is responsible for collecting in assets, paying debts, and distributing to beneficiaries?

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France Small Flag France

Even if heirs inherit the deceased’s assets immediately on death without probate, French “notaires” are responsible for collecting assets, paying debts and preparing the “acte de notoriété” which identifies the persons who are entitled to inherit. Heirs can choose to remain co-owners or to allocate the assets between them.

The filing of the inheritance tax return as well as the payment of inheritance tax is the responsibility of the heirs.

The trustees may also be responsible for the payment of inheritance tax when the trust’s assets are not reported in the inheritance tax established by the heirs.

Italy Small Flag Italy

The party to succeed, either by law or by will, can either accept (expressly or implicitly) or renounce the estate. In the meantime, unless the deceased has appointed one or more executors by will, he/she is also entitled to administer the estate (if he/she does not, an administrator may be appointed by the court). The renunciation and the acceptance of the estate are retroactive as from the death of the deceased from both a civil and tax law perspective. The party to succeed can accept the estate with or without the benefit of the inventory. In the former case, the heir is liable for the debts inherited (and for the legacies) up to the value of the inherited assets.

Israel Small Flag Israel

In Israel an estate can be administrated by the heirs or by an executor. There is no mandatory requirement to appoint an executor and if such appointment is required an application to the Family court or the Registrar of Inheritance for the appointment of an executor should be made.

Greece Small Flag Greece

Inheritors are individually in charge for administering their inherited portion in regards to collecting estate’s assets and paying estate’s debts on a pro rata basis [in accordance to their portion].

The testator may also appoint Executors to administer, on behalf of the inheritors, the estate including any business operations, collection of claims and distributions to beneficiaries.

Furthermore, the testator may set up an “inheritance trust” which should not be confused with trusts’ structures originating from the Anglo-Saxon model.

The Greek “inheritance trust” allows for a segment -or all- of the estate to be inherited by one individual [the inheritor] and thereafter -either at a certain moment in time or following a predetermined event- be passed on to the ultimate beneficiary-individual, the so-called “trustee”.

The Greek law “inheritance trust”, as such, serves the sole purpose of transferring certain property from the inheritor to the ultimate beneficiary-trustee, following which it seizes to exist.

Germany Small Flag Germany

In the absence of an executor (see below), the estate is administered by the heir or the community of heirs (“Erbengemeinschaft”), if there is more than one. In this case the heir(s) are responsible for all actions mentioned above.

If an executor has been appointed by the testator, all rights and duties concerning the estate are exercised by him. There are only few exceptions.

Belgium Small Flag Belgium

The heirs automatically obtain possession of all assets, rights and claims of the deceased, subject to the obligation to pay all debts of the estate (‘saisine’). Transmission of the estate is therefore not subject to an administrative procedure (no probate).

If a testamentary executor is appointed in a will, he must ensure that the wishes of the deceased are executed. However, his rights are limited: in principle he does not have ‘saisine’, and cannot liquidate, nor divide the estate.

British Virgin Islands Small Flag British Virgin Islands

The estate will be administered by the deceased’s personal representatives who will be responsible for collecting in assets, paying debts and distributing property to that person’s heirs. The personal representatives will be the person’s executors if he or she has left a Will containing a valid appointment of executors who are willing and able to apply for grant of probate or, if not, his or her administrators (whose identity will be determined by the law). The latter would need to obtain a BVI grant of letters of administration before they proceed with the estate’s administration. The procedure for applying for a grant is set out in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (Non-Contentious) Probate Rules 2017.

UAE Small Flag UAE

Where an individual passes away in Dubai having implemented a valid DIFC Will, or local Will under the new law, a Grant of Probate will be issued by the DIFC Courts in accordance with the requirements under the DIFC WPR rules.

Where an individual passes away in Dubai, without a Will, the estate will be administered by the local courts, in accordance with Shari’a law principles.

New Zealand Small Flag New Zealand

On the death of the testator, the Will must be proved by way of probate in the High Court. Generally, any claims made as to the validity of the Will or as to inadequate provision for family members must be made within six months of the Will being submitted to probate. Wills may dispose of all types of property capable of ownership, including overseas property. Wills commonly set up trusts which can operate for up to 80 years.

A Will can appoint a statutory trust company, or any person resident in or out of New Zealand as executor and trustee. The executor and trustee will be responsible for collecting assets, paying debts, and distributing to the beneficiaries.

Monaco Small Flag Monaco

Generally, the heirs have the right to administer the deceased’s estate. The heirs, unless they renounce the estate, are obliged to pay the debts and charges of the estate as well as any bequests made by the testator.

The testator may also appoint one or more testamentary executors.

In case of a Will trust established under Law 214, it is accepted that the executors and the trustees have the right to administer the estate.

A judicial administrator may be appointed by the court when the estate has not yet been accepted by the beneficiaries.

Updated: December 8, 2017