Personal representatives: residue: executor’s year
For estates in England and Wales, the personal representatives cannot be compelled to distribute the assets of the estate until at least one year has elapsed from the date of death (Section 44 Administration of Estates Act 1925). This is commonly referred to as the executor’s year.
When dealing with a dispute about whether a disposal was by personal representatives in that capacity or in their capacity as bare trustees for legatees we would not normally contend that the disposal was on behalf of the legatees if it took place during the executor’s year.
Although personal representatives cannot be compelled to distribute assets during the executor’s year there is no bar to them doing so. In a simple estate they may have ascertained residue well before the year ends. If there is evidence that they have done and have then distributed assets to the legatees we can accept that the liability relating to disposals during that year but after the date assets were distributed does lie with legatees.
In Scotland the rule is that the personal representatives are entitled to distribute the estate after six months from the deceased’s death if they have provided funds for payment of all the estate debts and made reasonable enquiries for claims.