Estate proceedings require fiduciaries to file accountings with the courts. Beneficiaries of an estate or trust may be entitled to require a fiduciary to file an accounting if the beneficiary is concerned about the administration of the estate or trust.
At Cona Elder Law, our New York Estate Administration attorneys offer years of experience petitioning and defending accounting contests. We will petition the court on behalf of beneficiaries who desire an accounting and we will prepare accountings for fiduciaries who are required to submit them. When litigation ensues, our litigators are prepared to question or defend fiduciaries and their accountings.
Regardless of your situation, we will get to know your needs and guide you to the best solution.
Once the probate or administration of the estate is nearing completion, a fiduciary should create an estate accounting that accurately reflects all financial transactions occurring within the estate. This transparent accounting should clearly show all financial actions the fiduciary took on behalf of the estate. The accounting ultimately absolves the fiduciary from liability.
The accounting is prepared at the end of the estate administration and prior to beneficiary distributions.
The accounting will include the following:
-The assets of the estate
-Income from assets
-Liquidation of assets
-Payments of debts and expenses
-All remaining property
In many instances, a written, informal accounting — an out-of-court procedure— is prepared and delivered to the beneficiaries. They will review each transaction of the estate and execute a "Receipt & Release" to acknowledge proper estate distribution and release the fiduciary from liability. However, if the informal accounting isn't accepted, accounting contest litigation may begin.
In contrast to the informal accounting, a judicial accounting involves a more exhaustive financial inventory. Most importantly, this complete financial inventory is then submitted to the court for approval. In many instances, the judicial accounting is the result of a disagreement over an informal accounting.
Upon examining an accounting provided by a fiduciary, if questions regarding the administration of the estate arise, an accounting contest may be initiated. Some activity that may prompt a contest include:
-Liquidation of estate assets without prior approval
-Appropriation of assets by the fiduciary
-Inappropriate handling of assets that leads to a loss of income or value
-Unnecessary prolongation of administrative duties
-Withholding of information from beneficiaries as to estate activities
-Deviating from terms of a Will or trust
For beneficiaries, an accounting contest may result in the unmasking of malfeasance on the part of a fiduciary. The accounting contest can result in:
-Recovery of income or assets
-Removal of a dishonest fiduciary
-The return of lost property
-The setting of firm timetables for administrative activities
In short, an accounting contest on behalf of a beneficiary is an attempt to curtail or eliminate mismanagement. The New York Estate Litigation attorneys at Cona Elder Law offer decades of experience contesting accountings for beneficiaries and interested parties.
Although there are no sure ways to prevent an accounting contest, utilizing the experienced Estate Administration attorneys at Cona Elder Law will send a strong message of integrity. Most importantly, you can reduce risk while eliminating the time spent on performing your fiduciary duties alone.
Our attorneys can outline all your specific obligations and show you strategies to responsibly fulfill them. Not only can we help with all estate administration duties, we can provide estate tax planning assistance and defend any challenges made to the estate. Make your life less stressful and do your job more efficiently by contacting us.
If you are a fiduciary who has been called to provide an accounting, it's important to understand you're not alone. While you may have a clear rationale for any administrative decisions you have made, the New York accounting contest attorneys at Cona Elder Law can provide a focused narrative and call upon our years of experience preparing detailed contested accountings on behalf of fiduciaries to protect both your decisions and your reputation.
Whether you are a beneficiary to a Will or trust or if you're a fiduciary, contesting an accounting can be a trying and challenging process. Fortunately, you are not alone. The Estate Litigation attorneys at Cona Elder Law offer more than 20 years of experience helping our clients navigate their way through the confusing world of probate, estate administration, and accountings.
Contact us at 631.619.2533 today to schedule a consultation.