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making payment to E. J. Carter as sole distributee, and by its decree of the April term, 1906, the sheriff of Loudoun county was directed to pay to John H. Skillman and Bushrod Skillman, each, the sum of $1,046.70, with interest on $610.32, a part thereof, from April 14, 1906, until paid, and the costs of the suit. From this decree an appeal was allowed.
The facts have already been sufficiently stated. The law with respect to the settlement of fiduciary accounts, prior to the adoption of the Code of 1849, was in a very unsatisfactory condition. The revisors, in their report, say (Report of Revisors, (h. 132, n.), there was probably no subject in relation to which they received more communications, written and oral, than with respect to the settlement of accounts of personal representatives of decedents, and guardians and committees of wards and insane persons. It appears that when the settlement of the accounts of an executor or administrator took place under the order of the court of probat, it was by commissioners appointed on motion of the executor or administrator, and they were generally chosen from among his friends and neighbors. They were often persons who had no knowledge of the principles on which accounts should be stated, and no disposition to scrutinize them very closely. Their reports were often drawn by the fiduciary himself, were not unfrequently signed by the commissioner without an examination of the vouchers, and it vas seldom that those interested had any knowledge of the report having been made until it had been recorded, without being looked at either by the court or any one else. These settlements proved most fertile sources of litigation.
To remedy these evils, the revisors reported, and the Legislature adopted, what appears in our Code of to-day as chapter 121, and which remains, with a few changes which add to the promptness and efficiency of the remedy, substantially as it was prepared by and appears in the Report of the Revisors of 1849. Its object was to afford a prompt, certain, efficient and inexpensive method by which the accounts of fiduciaries might be settled and estates distributed in accordance with law.
By section 2671, the judge of each court having jurisdiction rof the probate of wills and granting administration on estates ef decedents is required to appoint a commissioner of accounts, who shall hare a general supervision of all fiduciaries admitted to qualify in said court and make all ex parte settlements of their accounts; and this commissioner is directed to obtain from the clerk of his court within twenty days after each tern: thereof a list of the fiduciaries authorized to act as such under orders entered at the said term, and examine as to each fiduciary whether he has given such bond as the law requires, and if it appears that he has given no bond or that his bond is defective to make report thereof to his court at its next term. He is required to keep a record of fiduciaries, in which shall be entered the name of the fiduciary, the name of the decedent of whose estate he is the representative, the name of the living person for whom he is guardian, curator, or committee; the penalty of his bond; the names of his sureties; the date of the order conferring his authority; the date of any order revoking his authority; the date of the return of every inventory of the estate; the date of each settlement of his accounts; and shall index the said book in the name of the decedent or person represented by such fiduciary.
By section 2678 it is provided, that there shall be laid before the commissioner a statement of all money which any personal representative, guardian, curator, or committee shall have received, become chargeable with or have disbursed, within one year from the date of the order conferring his authority, or within any succeeding year, together with the vouchers for such disbursements, within six months after the end of every such year; and the commissioner shall state, settle and report to the court an account of the transactions of
such fiduciary, as provided by law. And if any such fiduciary fail to make such exhibit, the commissioner and the court shall proceed against him in like manner, and the court shall impose the same penalty, unless the fiduciary is excused for sufficient reason, as is provided in cases where fiduciaries fail to return inventories of their respective estates.
By section 2679, it is provided, that if any fiduciary shall fail to lay before the commissioner a statement of receipts for any year, within sis months after its expiration, and though a statement be laid before the commissioner, yet if the fiduciary he found chargeable for that year with any money not embraced in the said statement, he shall have no compensation for his services during said year, nor commission on such money, unless allowed by the court.
By section 2680 it is provided, that when any fiduciary shall have failed to lay before the commissioner a statement of his receipts for any year, a commissioner before whom the statement might have been laid shall, upon request made to him, within ten years from the commencement of such year, by any person who is interested as a creditor, legatee, distributee, surety of such fiduciary, or otherwise, or who appears as next friend of an infant so interested, issue a summons, directed to the sheriff or other officer of any county or corporation, requiring him to summon such fiduciary to lay before the commissioner a statement of his receipts and disbursements, accompanied by his vouchers, for such year, and for the time which may have since elapsed.
By section 2686, it is provided, that when any personal representative, etc., except a sheriff or other officer, shall have laid such statement before a commissioner, he shall examine whether the fiduciary has given such bond as the law requires, and whether it is in a penalty, and with sureties sufficient. Any commissioner of the court in which the .order was made conferring on the fiduciary his authority, shall, at any time before such statement is laid before a commissioner, upon the application of any person who is interested or appears as next friend of an infant interested, after reasonable notice to such fiduciary, examine into any of the said matters, or inquire whether security ought to be required of a fiduciary who may have been allowed to qualify without giving it, or whether by reason of the incapacity, misconduct, or removal of any fiduciary from this State, or for any other cause, it is improper to permit the estate of the decedent, ward, or other person, to remain under his control.
By section 2690, it is provided, that any commissioner who has for settlement the accounts of a personal representative of a decedent shall, when requested so to do by such representative, or any creditor, legatee, or distributee of the decedent, appoint a time and place for receiving proof of debts or demands against the said decedent or his estate, and four weeks before the said time post a notice of such time and place at the front door of the court-house of the circuit or corporation court wherein such fiduciary qualified on the first day of a term of such court, and also at two or more public places in the neighborhood of the place where the account is to be taken. By section 2691, the commissioner is authorized to adjourn from time to time for receiving such proof, and required to within one year from the time first appointed for receiving such proof, make out an account of all such debts or demands as may appear to him to be sufficiently proved, stating separately those of each class. By section 2692, all persons having claims against the estate are authorized to file them before the commissioner, who is required to endorse the date of filling thereon and sign the endorsement in his official character.
By section 2693, it is provided that every commissioner shall post at the front door of the court-house of the circuit or corporation court a list of fiduciaries whose accounts are before him for settlement, stating the names of such fiduciaries, the nature of their accounts, whether as personal representative, guardianfi curator, committee or trustee, and the names of their decedents, or of the persons for whom they act; and that no account of any fiduciary shall be completed by any commissioner util it shall have been mentioned in such list, for ten days. after being so mentioned. By section 2697 he is directed to file his report in the office of the court by which he is appointed as soon as practicable after its completion, and with his report return such of the vouchers or evidence before him as any person interested may desire him to return; or as he may deem proper.
By section 2699 it is provided, that every such account shall lie in the clerk's office thirty days for exceptions, and shall stand confirmed at the expiration of said thirty days, if not excepted to. And the court, or judge thereof in vacation, shall examine every such account as to which exceptions shall be filed, correct any errors which may appear in the exceptions, or any appearing on the face of the account (whether excepted io or not); and to this end may recommit the account to the same or another commissioner as often as it sees cause, or it raay confirm the report in whole or in a qualified manner. And the clerk is required, in a book kept for the purpose, to record every report which may be so confirmed, and, at the foot of it, the order of confirmation. And, by section 2699, the report, to the extent to which it may be so confirmed, shall be taken to be correct, except so far as the same may, in a suit, in proper time, be surcharged or falsified.
By section 2700, it is further provided, that where it appears by a report made as aforesaid, or a special report of the commissioner, that money is in the hands of any fiduciary, the court, in the clerk's office of which said report is filed, may order the same to he invested or loaned out, or make such other order respecting the same as may seem to it proper.
By section 2702, it is provided, that when a report of the accounts of any guardian, curator, committee, or trustee, shall be confirmed, either in whole or in a qualified manner, the court, in the clerk's office of which said report is filed, may order payment of what shall appear due on such accounts to such persons as would be entitled to recover the same by suit in equity. And by section 2703 it is declared, that when a report of the accounts of any personal representative, and of the debts and demands against the decedent's estate shall be confirined as aforesaid, the court shall order to be applied to the payment of such debts and demands so much of the estate in the hands of such representative, and to such creditors as shall appear proper, reserving, where it seems to the court reasonable to do so, to meet a claim of a surety for the decedent or any other contingent claim against the estate, the proof of which has to be deferred, or to mect any other claim not finally passed upon, such sum as it may deem sufficient to pay it or a proportion thereof equal to what is ordered to be paid to other credi tors of the same class, should the payment of it or such proportion afterwards appear proper,
By section 2706, it is provided, that a personal representative shall not be compelled to pay any legacy given by the will, or make distribution of the estate of his decedent, until after a vear from the date of the order conferring authority on the first executor or administrator of such decedent; and, except where it is otherwise specially provided, he shall not then be compelled to make such payment or distribution until the legatee or distributee shall give him a bond, exccuted by himself or some other person, with suficient surety, with condition to refund a due proportion of any delits or demands which may afterwards appear against the decedent, and of the costs attending their recovery. Such bond shall be filed in the clerk's office of the court which may have decreed such payment or (listribution, or in which the accounts of such representative may be recorded.
Section 2707 provides: “If any personal representative pay any legacy given by the will or distribute any of the estate of his decedent, and there be filed in the said clerk's office a proper refunding bond for what is so paid or distributed, with security therein sufficient at the time of taking it, such personal representative shall not, on account of what is so paid or distributed, be personally liable for any debt or demand against