Being an estate trustee carries with it a great deal of responsibility. Not only are you ensuring the wishes of a deceased person are respected and followed, but you also need to act honestly and in good faith towards the beneficiaries. Part of this responsibility is the duty to account.
As the estate trustee goes about gathering and distributing assets, you must maintain complete records and be prepared to provide an account to the beneficiaries of what you have done with those assets. This may also include if the estate earned any additional income after the deceased’s death, and whether all of the debts have been paid. The estate account resembles a financial statement. Accountants do not generally have experience assisting trustees in preparing accounts – it is more a task for an estates lawyer.
An estate trustee will often not receive any compensation until this account has been approved by the beneficiaries.
Once the estate account has been approved by the beneficiaries, estate trustees often request that beneficiaries sign a release that states their approval, and releases the trustee from needing to provide any further accounting.
There are times when an estate account needs to be provided to the court. This is known as Passing of Accounts, and you can read more here.
If you need assistance in providing an account to the beneficiaries, contact our Estate Law Group.