Administration of estates – grant of letters of administration – revocation – removal of existing administrators – furnishing of accounts by them – fresh grant to professional administrator
X died intestate in 2005 survived by his wife and four children. Letters of administration (the “Letters”) were granted to the widow and a son in 2006. Complaining that the administrators had done nothing to administer the estate (the net value of which had been sworn to be about HK$52 million) apart from making partial distributions (amounting to about HK$6.5 million), a beneficiary applied by an originating summons for: the revocation of the grant of Letters to them; their removal; the furnishing of accounts by them; and a fresh grant of Letters to a professional administrator. The administrators did not acknowledge service or appear at the hearing.
Held, granting such relief, that:
- The conduct of the administrators was detrimental to the due and proper administration of the estate and to the interests of the beneficiaries in that the administrators had: failed fully to administer the estate (in that they had done nothing apart from making those partial distributions); failed to furnish accounts despite reasonable requests; and failed to answer the present proceedings. So they ought to be removed.
- However, their removal was not enough. Given their complete failure to participate in the present proceedings, there was a real and substantial risk that the outgoing administrators would continue to be uncooperative and refuse to lodge the Letters upon their removal, thus causing further delay to the due administration of the estate. It was therefore appropriate to revoke the grant and dispense with the lodging of the Letters with the Probate Registry.
- The outgoing administrators should give a full and proper account of the estate to enable the incoming administrator to know what still needed to be administered and whether it was necessary to take recovery action.
- In order to save costs, only one of the two accountants who had consented to act would be appointed as administrator. A fresh grant of Letters would be made to him.
- An order nisi would be made for the payment by the outgoing administrators of indemnity costs summarily assessed at HK$130,000.