Estate Accounting Duties & Practices

Frequently heirs have expressed concern that the Executor or Estate Administrator of a family member’s estate have failed to perform their duties properly.

The honor and responsibility of becoming an executor come with the duty to act fairly and to treat any and all legatees, devisees of the estate pursuant to the last wishes of the decedent and the terms of the Will.

There are two mechanisms available to heirs to protect their interests.

  1. They may demand the Executor/Administrator purchase a Surety Bond,
  2. They may demand the Executor/Administrator complete a judicial accounting of all assets and liabilities of the estate.

The value of the bond will depend on the size and value of the estate, the larger the estate, the larger the bond requirement.

The Judicial Accounting requirement may be imposed by any beneficiary of the estate. Once requested, the Executor/Administrator must complete a precise inventory of any and all assets and liabilities of the estate, in accordance with the strict guidelines pursuant to the SPCA and the EPTL.

If the Executor/Administrator fails to comply with the demand to produce a Judicial Accounting, the beneficiary could file a motion to hold the Executor/Administrator in contempt of Court. Failure to submit an accurate accounting could result in the removal of the Executor/Administrator from their position and personal liability for any shortfall in the distribution of the assets to the heirs.

In conclusion, there are safeguards in the Surrogates Court rules to protect heirs. To ensure a beneficiary collects their fair share of assets, he or she may need an experienced attorney to protect their rights and interest.

For more information, please contact Jeffrey Weinstein, tax attorney with 29 years experience at 212 693-3737.

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