Posted By IrwinLegal
Deceased estate series – The “passing of accounts” procedure

This article was prepared for Irwin Legal with the assistance of Mr Sami Abbas.

The meticulous management of the financial aspects of an estate and transparent communication with beneficiaries are crucial responsibilities for an executor. In Western Australia, the particular obligations are governed by the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1967 (WA), which derives authority from the Administration Act 1903 (WA). Executors and administrators (excluding the Public Trustee of Western Australia) are obligated to file their accounts related to a deceased estate in the Supreme Court of Western Australia, as outlined in Section 37(1).[1] This process, known as the 'passing of accounts', involves submitting Form 4 of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1967 (WA) for the Court's review. However, the bulk of deceased estates in WA neglect the completion of filed accounts. By doing so, the executor or administrator 'runs the risk' of later being forced to do so, by a Court order.

Beneficiaries retain the right to actually compel the executor or administrator of a deceased estate to file and pass accounts in the Supreme Court. A beneficiary may demand the executor or administrator to 'file and pass accounts' if they believe the estate has not been properly carried out. Executors or administrators themselves may take the step of filing and verifying the estate accounts if there is a risk of a beneficiary or other interested person disputing their management of the estate and the accounts.

Indeed, it is 'best practice' for executors or administrators to proactively file and verify the estate's accounts by the end of the 'executor's year'. Such a step is prudent if they anticipate a potential dispute from beneficiaries or other interested parties regarding the management of the estate or the financial records.

The preparation of the application necessitates such documents and information as:

(a) an Affidavit of Verification (including key components such as a copy of the will and grant);

(b) a clear articulation of the applicant's interest;

(c) a detailed statement of distributions to date; and

(d) a compilation of all relevant correspondence.

The Court's decision on whether to order the filing and passing of accounts hinges on factors such as accounts already provided to beneficiaries, the estate's complexity, and the adequacy of explanation for any delays by the executor.

[1] Information and resources regarding the Public Trustee of Western Australia can be found at: ‘Manage a Deceased Estate: Public Trustee’, Government of Western Australia (Web Page) <>.

The final part of the series will explore the legal principle of 'estoppel' i.e. testamentary promises in the area of family farms.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. If you are named as an executor or administrator of a deceased estate, Irwin Legal can assist you in administering the estate. We recommend contacting us on (08) 9221 8337 or at if you wish to speak confidentially about your situation and seek legal assistance. Legal matters can vary based on laws and regulations, and seeking professional advice for your situation is important.