Are you serving as the Executor of the estate of a recently deceased loved one? If so, you may already know how complex and complicated the probate of an estate can be. At some point during the process, you may be asked to provide an estate accounting. If this is the first time you have served as an Executor, you may not know what an estate accounting entails. With that in mind, a Warren probate attorney at Augulis Law Firm explains what is involved in an estate accounting.
When an individual dies, he or she leaves behind assets. Those assets make up the decedent’s estate. Probate is the term given to the legal process that eventually transfers those estate assets to the intended beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate. If you are serving as the Executor of the estate, you were appointed to that role by the decedent in his/her Last Will and Testament. Your overall job is to oversee the probate process. Additional functions that are typically included in the probate of an estate include:
- Authenticating the decedent’s Last Will and Testament if one was left behind
- Identifying, locating, securing, and valuing estate assets
- Locating legal heirs of the estate if the decedent died intestate, or without a valid Will
- Allowing creditors the opportunity to file claims against the estate
- Litigating any challenges to the Will or estate
- Ensuring the taxes owed by the estate are paid
Why Might I Be Required to Prepare an Estate Accounting?
In broad terms, an estate accounting is a report prepared by the Executor that explains everything that has been done up to that point in the probate process. If the estate is required to go through formal, court supervised, probate you may be required to submit an estate accounting to the court at the end of the probate process or at other times upon request. A beneficiary, heir, or even a creditor may also request an estate accounting during the probate process. As a general rule, if the party requesting the accounting has a financial interest in the estate, an Executor will be required to fulfill that request.
What Is Included in an Estate Accounting?
An estate accounting is essentially a detailed record of what an Executor has done with the estate assets. The likelihood that an estate accounting will be required is one of the many reasons why it is crucial to keep excellent records when acting as an Executor.
An estate accounting will begin with an opening inventory that list all estate assets owned by the decedent at the time of his/her death along with a date of death value for each asset. If any additional assets are brought into the estate at a later date, those must be included in the estate accounting as well. Throughout the probate process you may distribute some of those assets to beneficiaries or use them to pay creditors of the estate. If so, you must keep records of how the assets were used. There are also typically expenses incurred during the probate of an estate that must be included in an estate accounting. For example, if an appraiser was needed to value the decedent’s property or a real estate professional was called in to sell a vacation house, the fees paid for their services must be included in the accounting. Finally, an accounting must make it clear where the estate stands as of the date of the accounting. Specifically, it must make clear which assets remain part of the estate and how they will be spent or distributed.
Contact a Warren Estate Planning Attorney
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you are serving as the Executor of an estate and you would like assistance with the creation of an estate accounting, or with the probate process in general, contact an experienced Warren probate attorney at Augulis Law Firm by calling 908-222-8803 to schedule your appointment today.