Whether you are a beneficiary or a personal representative of an estate, you may be wondering does a personal representative have to show accounting to beneficiaries. A personal representative of an estate does not have an automatic obligation to file an accounting of the estate. But once the beneficiaries request an accounting, the personal representative has to provide one.
You can ask for an informal accounting first
If a beneficiary and the personal representative agree to an informal accounting, it might work, as long as the beneficiary is satisfied, they have all the information. When a personal representative files an informal accounting, they don’t have to file it with the court. They can just provide it to the beneficiaries. A personal representative may ask a beneficiary to approve an informal accounting before the personal representative makes distributions of estate funds.
If not satisfied, demand that a personal representative show a formal accounting
If the beneficiary is not satisfied with an informal accounting, they can ask for a formal accounting. If the personal representative fails to provide one, the beneficiaries can compel the personal representative to provide one. If the personal representative is ordered by the court to provide an accounting, they usually do or get removed by the court. Sometimes they provide an incomplete or fraudulent accounting. Beneficiaries can sue to challenge those accountings and get the money that the personal representative may be keeping from the beneficiaries.
Requirements of a valid estate accounting
An estate accounting is a document that details every transaction that occurred in the estate and provides some summaries and explanations of the transactions. The document consists of various schedules in a court-approved format and complying with general accounting standards. At a minimum, the estate accounting includes schedules listing line by line all of the assets that are a part of the estate, all of the expenses of the estate, all income of the estate, and proposed distributions of the estate.
The accounting is a set of schedules where a personal representative has to show all possible information about the estate, such as
- an itemized list of the assets that are in the estate
- the funds or property received by the estate
- the expenses of the estate
- the beneficiary distributions already disbursed and
- the beneficiary distributions yet to be disbursed
Beneficiaries and their estate attorney can review the schedules and decide that they are satisfied with the information. Or the beneficiaries can compel the personal representative to show all of the documents associated with the estate as well as the personal representative’s personal documents. Beneficiaries are entitled to have the personal representative show documentation such as
- account statements
- closing statements
- copies of checks
- tax returns
- loan applications
Accounting vs. Inventory of the estate
Beneficiaries have the right to have the personal representative show an inventory of the estate (not to be confused with a formal accounting) within nine months of the appointment of the personal representative of the estate. An Inventory is something that should just be filed – the beneficiary should not have to ask for it. Some personal representatives make a mistake of just filing the Inventory with the Court and not automatically sending a copy to the beneficiaries. It’s always a good idea to ask the personal representative for an inventory before deciding whether or not to proceed to the next step.
To sum up, does a personal representative have to show an accounting to beneficiaries? Yes, if they ask for it.
If you are looking for a New York estate attorney who has experience with personal representative accountings in New York estate, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.