If you recently lost a loved one, you are likely going through a period of grief and other heightened emotions. If your loved one appointed you to be the Executor of his or her estate, you still must focus on the legal and practical steps required during the probate that follows. Normally you will be required to provide an estate accounting. For a first time Executor, an Overland Park probate attorney at Parman & Easterday can assist you when an estate accounting is required.
What Happens During Probate?
Most people leave behind assets when they pass away. These assets make up the decedent’s estate. Probate is the term given to the legal process that transfers these estate assets to the beneficiaries or heirs of the estate. If you are the Executor of the estate, usually you were named to that role by the decedent in his or her Last Will and Testament. Your job is to oversee the probate process. Specific steps during probate include:
- Authenticating the decedent’s Last Will and Testament
- Litigating any challenges to the Will or estate
- Identifying, locating, securing, and valuing estate assets
- Locating legal heirs of the estate if the decedent died intestate, or without a valid Will
- Allowing creditors the opportunity to file claims against the estate
- Ensuring all taxes owed by the estate are paid
Why Might an Estate Accounting Be Necessary?
An estate accounting is a report prepared by the Executor detailing everything that has occurred in the probate process. If the estate is going through a formal, court supervised, probate you will be required to submit an estate accounting to the court at the end of the probate process or at any other time upon request by the court. A beneficiary, heir, or creditor may also request an estate accounting during the probate. If the party requesting the accounting has a financial interest in the estate, the Executor will be required to fulfill that request. The idea behind preparing an estate accounting is to reassure those with an interest in the estate that everything is being done in an efficient, proper and legal manner.
What Is Included in an Estate Accounting?
An estate accounting is a detailed record of what the Executor has done with the estate assets. The likelihood that an estate accounting will be required is why it is crucial to keep excellent records when acting as an Executor. At any time you can be required to explain what you have done with estate assets and why you did what you did.
As soon as you are appointed as the Executor, you should complete an opening inventory that lists all estate assets owned by the decedent at the time of death and their date of death values. If assets are discovered later and added to the estate, those assets must be included in the estate accounting, as well. During the probate process you may find yourself distributing some assets to beneficiaries or using them to pay creditors of the estate. If so, keep records of how the assets were used or distributed. You may also need to sell estate assets to pay creditors or to facilitate equal distribution of the estate to beneficiaries. An estate will incur expenses during the probate that must be included in the estate accounting. If an appraiser valued the decedent’s property or a real estate professional sold a vacation house, fees paid for these services must be included in the accounting. Finally, an accounting must reflect where the estate stands as of the date of the accounting so that anyone reading the report knows what assets remain in the estate and which assets have been distributed or used to pay creditors or other expenses.
Contact an Overland Park Probate Attorney
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about how to prepare an estate accounting during the probate of an estate, contact an experienced Overland Park probate attorney at Parman & Easterday by calling 405-843-6100 or 913-385-9400 to schedule your appointment today.
Many estates go through some type of probate; however, very small estates may qualify for an alternative to formal probate that is much simpler and can be completed in considerably less time.
You are not required to have an attorney assist you; however, if the estate requires formal probate or if you anticipate challenges or problems with the probate process it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced probate attorney.
No. You have the right to decline to serve. A well written Will should name a successor Executor for just this reason. If one is not named, the court will appoint someone to serve.