Dealing with the loss of a loved one is a devastating experience, especially if they were very close. If they left any estate or trust behind, finding answers to all the bugging questions related to probate accounting might make the whole process even more overwhelming.
In these cases, it is best to seek the assistance of a probate attorney at an experienced law firm. That way, you can easily navigate the probate accounting process, starting from the declaration of the estate assets to the distribution of the estate for when it is time to close the estate.
For instance, if the probate administration is taking place in California, a trustee is expected to file the trust accounting in accordance with California Probate Code. Understanding this will enable you to provide clear answers to probate court inquiries and beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate or trust.
What is Probate Accounting?
Probate accounting is the detailed accounting of all the transactions undertaken by an estate within a particular reporting period. Trust accounting is often required by law when a trustee is appointed, terminated, or changed. It is also necessary when a current trustee brings a petition for the estate’s final distribution or closing.
Forms required for the accounting period in the probate accounting process often vary from one state to another. In California, if you are the only beneficiary of the estate, you can sign a waiver of accounting where none is required. Also, if all the heirs and beneficiaries of the state sign the form, then there’s no need for probate accounting either.
The Probate Accounting Process
Probate accounting consists of three essential components that dictate the administration and leadership of any estate or trust. Knowledge of estate assets, income received and disbursements, and final accounting will inform you on how to best proceed with your trusted probate lawyer and answer your questions.
A record of the estate asset and liabilities
The trustees and executors of the estate must file an account, declaring the assets on hand as of the time of the decedent’s death. Again, the California Probate Code outlines the forms for proper accounting. For example, a financial statement showing the value of bank accounts would suffice for the document.
Other valuables, such as real estate and jewelry, may be evaluated based on a fair market value appraisal. Money owed to and by the estate must also be listed in this inventory. If you are a beneficiary or close family of the deceased, keep in mind that all heirs and representatives of the estate are entitled to ask questions concerning anything they don’t understand.
Income Received and Disbursements
Another important aspect of probate accounting is a record of the income received or earned on the principal over a specified period. The document includes interest on bank savings, dividends, rental income, etc. throughout the period of accounting. This record must highlight in detail all the disbursement and expenditures made by the estate and each financial transaction must indicate the recipient, source, remarks, and amount.
Upon receipt of all income due to the estate and all legal debts have been cleared, the personal representative may proceed with the distribution of the estate or remaining assets to the heirs and beneficiaries stated in the will. If there’s no will, the estate will be distributed in accordance with state law.
In cases of discrepancies in the record or improper interpretation of the will, a petition from any or all of the beneficiaries or court order may be issued. This summons the personal representative or executor to provide further details if the information provided is not satisfactory.
The final accounting is a summary of accounts filed by the probate executor, showing details of important financial undertakings during the accounting period. This form may not outline all the information, but those records are kept for future use. As a beneficiary, you may also file an objection at this stage if you believe the summary of the account is inaccurate.
At this point, the executor of the estate or trust may file a petition to close the estate or terminate their appointment as personal representative.
Why You Need a Probate Accounting Attorney
Issues surrounding wills and beneficiaries are common in probate processes and probate accounting. Because of the complications and jargon involved in probate and estate administration, many folks may not get answers to their questions or likely miss out on an estate to which they have legal claims.
At The Legacy Lawyers, hundreds of clients have trusted us as reliable probate accounting attorneys to handle their probate accounting and other cases directly related to estate administration. We know exactly how to spin things in your favor and speak the language of judges for court approval. We would be honored to earn you and your family’s trust through a consultation at our office or by calling our number at 800.840.1998.