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Before an estate can be concluded, an accounting must be prepared reflecting all financial transactions occurring within the estate. The fiduciary must account for all assets received, income and interest earned, all bills paid, commissions earned and bequests and gifts paid. Once approved, the accounting absolves the fiduciary from liability.
An accounting is commonly prepared at the end of the administration of the estate and just before distributions are made to the beneficiaries. Generally, an accounting entails a statement showing:
As an executor or administrator of an estate, we can help you prepare all necessary accountings — whether informal accountings or judicial accountings.
A completely administered estate refers to when all assets have been collected and all debts have been paid. At this point, the fiduciary is ready to distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
An informal accounting is an out-of-court procedure where the fiduciary delivers a written accounting to the interested parties. The recipients will review each transaction of the estate. If everything is acceptable, a “Receipt & Release” will be executed, which acknowledges the receipt of the proper distribution from the estate and releases the fiduciary from liability.
However, if the accounting isn’t acceptable, the fiduciary will be informed of the inaccuracies — with the intention that they will be corrected. If the fiduciary fails to make the required corrections, litigation may ensue.
Certain estates require a judicial accounting. In contrast to informal accountings, judicial accountings involve submission of the accounting to the Surrogate’s Court for approval.
Very often judicial accountings are required when there is disagreement over whether the Executor or Administrator accurately administered the estate. A judicial accounting can be commenced in one of many ways:
In many instances, the court will demand an accounting from the fiduciary. This is often the situation whenever:
If the fiduciary fails to provide an accounting to an interested party or to a beneficiary, the party can petition the court to compel the fiduciary to file a judicial accounting. If the fiduciary fails to do so, they can be held in contempt of court and be subject to legal ramifications.
If there is a fiduciary bond, the surety company can request an accounting. In addition, creditors can also request a judicial accounting.
As the Executor or Administrator of your loved one’s estate, you have a lot on you plate. The experienced accounting attorneys at Cona Elder Law will be with you every step of the way. Since 1998, we’ve helped our clients navigate their way through Estate Administration and Probate. We will guide you and your family toward making the most informed choices.
At Cona Elder Law, we’re proud to be ranked as one of the top Elder Law and Estate Planning firms on Long Island. Our unwavering dedication, commitment to personalized service, and sensitivity allows us to see beyond the obvious and develop a keen understanding of your needs.
Contact Cona Elder Law today for experienced New York estate administration assistance.
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