As an estate trustee, you have a duty to manage the deceased person’s estate. Part of your role is to be report back to the beneficiaries to detail how the assets of the estate have been handled. You can read more about estate accounting here.
Sometimes, the court is involved in this process. This is called passing of accounts, and essentially means that a court decides whether to approve (that is, “pass”) the trustee’s handling of the estate.
The courts understand that an estate trustee is often not a professional financial expert, so will only expect the handling to be that of a reasonably prudent person. You will be asked to provide information such: as a record of the estate’s assets, money spent from the estate, details of any investments.
As estate trustee, you may apply to court voluntarily. It is not required by law to pass accounts, but it may provide peace of mind for you. If the court passes the account, it will officially confirm that the trustee did not mishandle or misappropriate any assets, and that the distribution of the estate was conducted properly.
You may also be compelled to pass accounts, if a beneficiary applies to the court.
While passing of accounts can be a very technical undertaking, it is usually an uncontroversial process. However, there may be issues if there is breakdown in the relationship between the trustee and the beneficiaries.
For more information about passing of accounts, contact our Estate Law Group.