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Estate Accounting

When a decedent passes away, the personal representative has a variety of responsibilities related to managing the decedent’s estate and distributing the assets. One of those responsibilities is to complete a final accounting. This involves keeping track of all money and other property going out of the estate and money and other property coming into the estate. This accounting is submitted to the circuit court judge for review. Before the estate can be closed, the accounting must be approved. If you are the personal representative of an estate and would like more information about completing an estate accounting, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale estate accounting lawyer who will help ensure that you are fulfilling your responsibilities as required by Florida law.

Estate Final Accounting

Before the assets in the estate can be distributed, the personal representative must file with the court a final accounting and a petition for discharge. If the estate is not required to file a federal estate tax return, the final accounting and the petition for discharge must be filed and served on interested parties within 12 months of when the letters of administration were issued unless the court approved an extension.

The purpose of the final accounting is to provide a detailed record of all of the transactions that occurred during the administration process. Beginning with the initial inventory which the personal representative prepared at the beginning of administration, the final accounting must show all changes in the assets of the estate. As a Fort Lauderdale estate accounting lawyer will explain, this would include all money and other property that was paid out of the estate. For example, there should be a record of debts that were paid, such as bills paid that were owed by the decedent at the time of his (or her) death such as credit card bills, personal loans, and household bills. Expenses of administration must also be accounted for such as fees associated with asset appraisal, fees for other professional services, and expenses associated with managing property in the estate.

If there were other claims files against the estate such as claims for personal injury or contract claims that resulted in disbursements from the estate, the personal representative must provides details of those disbursements in the final accounting.

Similarly, all income received into the estate must be accounted for. For example, if there was money owed to the decedent for loans, rent, or other business transactions, that must be detailed. If the estate filed claims against others such as personal injury or contract claims and received settlements or awards, the details should be part of the final accounting.

The final accounting should fully disclose the balance of property available for distribution to the beneficiaries named in the will or to legal heirs after payment of debts and expenses.

As an estate accounting attorney in Fort Lauderdale will explain, detailed records and receipts are required to back up all disbursements from the estate and income to the estate. Failure to offer detailed records may result in the court rejecting the accounting or an interested party objecting to the accounting.

Objecting to a Probate Accounting

Interested parties such as beneficiaries and heirs have the right to object to the final accounting. After the documents have been served, Florida probate rules allow an interested party 30 days to object to the final accounting and petition for discharge. The objection must be served upon the personal representative as well as the other interested parties. The objection cannot be a general objection to the accounting. There must be specific details about which items the objection is directed and the grounds for the objection.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are a personal representative and have questions related to an estate accounting, or if you are a beneficiary and are contemplating filing an objection because you have concerns about the final accounting, it is important for you to contact an experienced estate accounting attorney serving Fort Lauderdale. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have the skill and resources to protect your interests. We have years of experience successfully representing beneficiaries, personal representatives, heirs, and fiduciaries in matters related to all phases of the estate administration process. We are here to help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

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