TITLE 12

Decedents' Estates and Fiduciary Relations

Administration of Decedents' Estates

CHAPTER 23. ACCOUNTING AND DISTRIBUTION

Subchapter III. Decree of Distribution


The jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery shall extend to and embrace the distribution of the assets and surplusage of the estates of decedents among the persons entitled thereto in all cases where such jurisdiction is invoked as provided in this subchapter.

Code 1915, § 3403(a); 38 Del. Laws, c. 184, § 1; Code 1935, § 3867; 42 Del. Laws, c. 143, § 1; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2331; 57 Del. Laws, c. 402, § 3; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1.;

(a) An executor or administrator or any person claiming to have an interest in the estate to be distributed may, at any time after any account has been filed by an executor or administrator, apply to the Court of Chancery in the county in which letters testamentary or of administration were granted upon the estate to be distributed, by a written petition filed in the Court for a decree of distribution of the estate among the persons entitled thereto. Such petition shall have attached to it a certified copy of all accounts that have been theretofore filed by the executor or administrator in the office of the Register of Wills for the county. The petition shall contain the names of all persons known to the petitioner who claim or may claim an interest in the estate to be distributed, together with their post-office addresses so far as known, and shall state whether the executor or administrator of the estate has given the notice required to be given by § 32, article IV of the Constitution of this State, and shall be duly verified.

(b) If at the time the petition is filed the executor or administrator of the estate shall not have given the notice required to be given by § 32, article IV of the state Constitution, the Court shall forthwith order such notice to be given by such executor or administrator within such time as shall be fixed by the Court.

Code 1915, § 3403(a); 38 Del. Laws, c. 184, § 1; Code 1935, § 3867; 42 Del. Laws, c. 143, § 1; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2332; 57 Del. Laws, c. 402, § 3; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1.;

(a) Upon the filing of the petition provided for under § 2332 of this title, the Court of Chancery, after having satisfied itself of the sufficiency of the petition, shall make an order:

(1) Taking jurisdiction of the proceeding;

(2) Setting the application for a decree of distribution down for a hearing before the Court, at a time fixed in such order;

(3) Providing for written notice and delivery of a copy of the petition by certified mail to each person who is named in the petition as a person who claims or may claim an interest in the estate to be distributed, and each such person of whom the Court otherwise has knowledge, and also to the personal representative of the decedent, if the personal representative is not the petitioner in the proceeding;

(4) Providing for the publication of the notice in a newspaper published in the county, at least once a week for at least 4 weeks before the date of such hearing.

(b) The notice shall be mailed and published by and in the name of the Register of Wills of the county in which the proceeding is pending, and shall be in substantially the following form:

IN THE COURT OF CHANCERY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE IN AND FOR __________________________ COUNTY

TO ALL PERSONS CLAIMING TO HAVE AN INTEREST IN THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ESTATE OF ________________________________, DECEASED, INCLUDING PERSONS CLAIMING TO BE HEIRS, LEGATEES, BENEFICIARIES OR OTHER DISTRIBUTEES OF SAID ESTATE.

YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED that an application has been made to the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware, in and for ______________________ County, for a decree of distribution of the estate of said decedent and that the application has been set down for a hearing before the Court on the ________________ day of __________________________________ A.D. __________, at ________________ M., in the courtroom of the Court of Chancery in the County Courthouse in the City of _______________________________, Delaware.

You are further notified that if you desire to make any claim to an interest in the distribution of the estate, or to all or any part of the distributable amount of the estate, you must appear before the Court at the time and place aforesaid and present such claim together with any evidence you desire to present to sustain such claim.

Your failure to appear and present your evidence at the time and place aforesaid will be at your peril.

                                .

                               Register of Wills of

                                County.

Code 1915, § 3403(a); 38 Del. Laws, c. 184, § 1; Code 1935, § 3867; 42 Del. Laws, c. 143, § 1; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2333; 57 Del. Laws, c. 402, § 3; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 70 Del Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

At the hearing of the application or any adjournment thereof, the Court of Chancery shall consider the sworn petition of the applicant and any sworn answer or answers that have been filed in the proceeding and shall take and receive any and all pertinent evidence that may be offered by the petitioner or by the personal representative of the decedent or by any person appearing and claiming to have an interest in the estate to be distributed. The evidence so taken shall be recorded stenographically and, if required by the Court, or if an appeal is taken from any decree of distribution that may be made on the application, shall be transcribed.

Code 1915, § 3403(a); 38 Del. Laws, c. 184, § 1; Code 1935, § 3867; 42 Del. Laws, c. 143, § 1; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2334; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1.;

If, upon the hearing, the Court of Chancery shall be satisfied that the estate or any part thereof may then be distributed, the Court shall make a decree determining the distribution of the estate then available for distribution to the person or persons who are by law entitled to the same. If it appears that a portion of the estate may then be distributed and the balance of the estate should be reserved for contingent liabilities against the estate, such decree may, if the Court deems proper, determine the distribution of such balance if and to the extent that the same may thereafter become available for distribution.

Code 1915, § 3403(a); 38 Del. Laws, c. 184, § 1; Code 1935, § 3867; 42 Del. Laws, c. 143, § 1; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2335; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1.;

Whenever it appears in any proceeding under this subchapter that the balance of the estate, after the payment of debts, includes stocks, bonds or other securities, the Court may direct distribution of such assets in kind to and among those lawfully entitled thereto, including fiduciaries. Such distribution in kind shall specify what stocks, bonds or other securities shall be distributed to each distributee separately. Any fiduciary to whom such a distribution in kind has been made may accept the stocks, bonds or other securities so distributed, but, with respect to the retention thereof after such distribution, such fiduciary shall be governed by the general law applicable thereto.

Code 1915, § 3403(a); 38 Del. Laws, c. 184, § 1; Code 1935, § 3867; 42 Del. Laws, c. 143, § 1; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2336; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1.;

The Court of Chancery, instead of hearing in the first instance an application for a decree of distribution under this subchapter, may appoint a master to hear the same who shall thereafter proceed in accordance with this subchapter, and thereupon the master shall make a report to the Court recommending the decree to be entered in the proceeding. Such report shall be subject to exceptions by the personal representative of the estate or any person claiming to have an interest therein and such exceptions shall be heard by the Court and thereafter a decree shall be entered by the Court in the proceeding.

Code 1915, § 3403(a); 38 Del. Laws, c. 184, § 1; Code 1935, § 3867; 42 Del. Laws, c. 143, § 1; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2337; 57 Del. Laws, c. 402, § 3; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 70 Del Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) Every decree of distribution made by the Court of Chancery in a proceeding initiated under this subchapter shall be a final decree, but the personal representative of the decedent or any person claiming to have an interest in the estate thereby decreed to be distributed shall have the right, at any time within 30 days after the making and entry of such decree, to take an appeal therefrom to the Supreme Court. After the expiration of the period of 30 days such decree of distribution, with respect to all matters contained therein, if no appeal has been taken therefrom, shall become and be conclusive and binding upon the executor or administrator of the estate of the decedent and upon every person claiming to have an interest in the estate thereby distributed.

(b) If an appeal is taken from any such decree, the decree or judgment made and entered by the Supreme Court on such appeal shall likewise be conclusive and binding upon the executor or administrator and every person claiming as aforesaid, from the date of the making and entry of the decree or judgment by the Supreme Court.

(c) Any appeal taken to the Supreme Court shall be heard by that Court upon the record of the proceeding in the Court of Chancery and the procedure on such appeal shall be in accordance with the rules of the Supreme Court.

Code 1915, § 3403(a); 38 Del. Laws, c. 184, § 1; Code 1935, § 3867; 42 Del. Laws, c. 143, § 1; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2338; 57 Del. Laws, c. 402, § 3; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1.;

The Court of Chancery may make all necessary rules of procedure before the master and other rules governing the proceeding not inconsistent with this subchapter.

Code 1915, § 3403(a); 38 Del. Laws, c. 184, § 1; Code 1935, § 3867; 42 Del. Laws, c. 143, § 1; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2339; 57 Del. Laws, c. 402, § 3; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1.;