Appropriation and section 55 of the Succession Act

18 June 2021


Just a quick reminder of the usefulness of section 55 of the Succession Act, particularly in intestacy cases. Section 55 is the section that allows a personal representative appropriate a portion of the estate to satisfy a bequest or share of the estate. It applies to both intestacy and testacy cases. So instead of saying paying €15,000 of a bequest, the per rep may decide to pay that by giving a car to the beneficiary of equivalent value. If appropriating an asset, you must give notice to all beneficiaries of the appropriation (s. 55(3)). Beneficiaries may object to the appropriation and may do so by applying to court within six weeks from the service of notice to prohibit the appropriation.

This might be a useful tool in difficult intestacy cases where there is a need to re-organise assets but coming to agreement is proving a challenge. Section 55 could be a way out of this impasse. The per rep or other beneficiaries may wish to re-organise assets after death and service of a notice under section 55 may be a good way of testing the appetite of other beneficiaries to contest these arrangements. Somewhat high wire but a possible way forward.

Also, many will precedents contain a clause dispensing with the obligation of the per rep to send the notice under s. 55 and that should be a standard in your wills. The clause is as follows:

My executors and trustees shall have power to appropriate any asset forming part of my estate in accordance with the provisions of s. 55 of the Succession Act 1965 without serving any of the notices or obtaining any of the required consents.