The estate (property) of deceased persons may become the subject matter of High Court proceedings.

Administration Suits (solvent/insolvent estates) including next-of-kin inquiries

The estate (property) of deceased persons may become the subject matter of High Court proceedings where questions arise as to any or all of the following:

(a) how the estate has been administered to date
(b) what the estate consists of
(c) who is entitled to benefit from the estate
(d) who is a creditor of the estate

Commencement of an administration suit/next-of-kin inquiry

Such proceedings are usually commenced in the High Court by way of special summons. Special summonses are issued in the Central Office of the High Court and are initially listed before the Master of the High Court. When ready for hearing they are transferred to a Chancery Court motion list.

Proceeding before the examiner

Following the making of the court order referring the matter to the Examiners Office with the direction to take certain accounts and make certain inquiries, the matter proceeds in the Examiners Office .

For the terms of the order to be implemented it is necessary for the party having carriage of the suit usually the plaintiff to issue a Notice to Proceed before the Examiner.

In the course of taking such accounts and making such inquiries the Examiner usually directs:

- the filing of affidavits (sworn documents) dealing with

(i)   the property of the estate setting it out by type in accordance with the directions given in the order of the court and

(ii)  the known family members of a particular deceased person where an Inquiry as to next of kin has been directed - this affidavit is known as an affidavit of pedigree

- the lodgement of accounts relating to the financial transactions of the estate of the deceased person

- advertisements for creditors and beneficiaries, as the case may require;

The findings of the Examiner are encapsulated in a formal document called a Certificate of Administration/Next-of-kin.

Following the filing of a certificate of administration an application is usually made to the Examiner's court list for further consideration of matters disclosed in that certificate or otherwise enabling the completion of the administration of the estate.

Though interim orders of the court can provide for the lodgement in court of funds relating to the estate, the lodgement of such funds most usually arises on foot of an order made at the hearing on further consideration.

Completion of an administration suit

The funds lodged in court (so far as they extend) are allocated amongst those found to be entitled according to the findings of the Examiner's certificate and as determined by law in accordance with an Allocation and Payment Schedule which must be settled by the Examiner.

The funds in court cannot be paid out without an order of the court and such application is usually made following the settlement of the allocation and payment schedule.

Alternative procedure for the administration of the estate of a person dying insolvent

The Bankruptcy Act 1988 Part VI Section 115 to 122 allows for the administration of the estate of a person dying insolvent, on the presentation of a petition to the court either by:

(a)  a creditor whose debt would have been sufficient to support a bankruptcy petition against the deceased person if he had been alive or

(b) the personal representative of the deceased.

On the presentation of such a petition the property of the deceased person vests in the Official Assignee, as in bankruptcy.

There do not appear to have been any such Petitions presented to the Court since the enactment of the said Section.

Administration suit: the relevant legislation

The Legitimacy Act 1931
The Adoption Act 1952
The Administration of Estates Act 1959
The Succession Act 1965
The Status of Children Act 1987
Rules of the Superior Courts (S.I No. of 1986)

Additional reading

Practice and Procedure in Administration and Mortgage Suits in Ireland - Scanlon