Do Executors Have to Give an Accounting to Beneficiaries?

By Maggie Lourdes

An executor, sometimes called a personal representative, is an individual appointed by a probate court to administer a decedent's estate. An executor's job is to take control of the estate's assets and distribute them to the decedent's beneficiaries. An executor must also provide an accounting of all assets and distributions for the court and beneficiaries.

An executor, sometimes called a personal representative, is an individual appointed by a probate court to administer a decedent's estate. An executor's job is to take control of the estate's assets and distribute them to the decedent's beneficiaries. An executor must also provide an accounting of all assets and distributions for the court and beneficiaries.

Accounting Information

Probate estate executors must prepare accountings to ensure the fair and competent handling of beneficiaries' inheritances. Accounting forms and preparation formalities vary slightly from state to state; however, they all require the same basic information. An executor must disclose to the beneficiaries all actions he has taken for the estate. Receipts for bill payments and the sale of real estate or other property must be listed. Distributions of money or property made to beneficiaries must specify dollar amounts and identify the property and beneficiaries involved. Essentially, beneficiaries are entitled to detailed, accurate accounting from executors.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Informal Accountings

Most estates are administered by independent or informal probate proceedings. Independent probate cases still require executors to provide accountings to beneficiaries and courts. However, the accounting does not require a judge to sign off on the executor's activities. An informal probate accounting may require beneficiaries sign off on the accounting. It may also simply require the beneficiaries be mailed a copy of the accounting and, if no objections are filed within a certain amount of time, the accounting is deemed acceptable.

Formal Accountings

Courts can require an executor's accounting to receive direct judicial scrutiny and approval. Beneficiaries may attend hearings for approval; however, it is a judge who must ultimately approve accountings in these cases. Supervised estates require these types of judicial accounting approvals. A supervised probate estate has heavier judicial oversight. An example of when an estate may require court supervision would be when beneficiaries engage in large disputes.

Frequency of Accountings

Generally, a final accounting must be filed before an estate closes. This gives beneficiaries the opportunity to review all of an executor's activities before the file is permanently closed in court. If an estate takes longer than one year to administer, the executor usually must file an accounting at the end of the first year. Subsequent accountings must be filed as an executor continues administration.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Can a Non Lawyer Probate a Will?

References

Related articles

What Are the Duties of an Executor of a Will in Delaware?

In Delaware, residents may draft wills directing the distribution of their property after death. A testator, or will maker, typically names an executor in his will whose primary duty will be to gather and distribute his assets upon his death. The Register of Wills formally appoints the executor. Once a formal appointment is made, the executor can legally carry out his duties of administering the decedent's estate.

What Are the Heir's Rights Under a Probated Will?

A person who receives property or a share of an estate under a will has certain rights as soon as the will is probated. Probate, a court proceeding that affirms the will's validity and gives the executor the legal authority to distribute the estate, is designed to protect the rights of will beneficiaries.

What Is the Executor's Responsibility in Regards to Burial Expenses?

Executors, sometimes called personal representatives, are appointed by probate courts to administer the estates of a deceased person. An executor takes on the legal duty of gathering together the estate's assets and paying off its debts. Funeral costs fall under the category of estate debts that the executor legally must arrange to be paid.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

How to Get an Accounting of My Mother's Estate

Although estate laws vary from one state to another, all states permit you to obtain an accounting of your mother's ...

Executors in Wills

The executor is the person appointed by the court to administer an estate. Usually the court appoints the executor ...

Do Beneficiaries Have to Sign Off on Probate of a Will?

As a beneficiary named in someone’s will, you may want a say in how the deceased’s estate is administered. ...

What Happens After an Estate Has Been Probated?

Whether a person dies with our without a will, in most cases, his estate must go through the probate process. Although ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED