New York Estate Accounting
When you draft your will, you will name someone as your executor. Your executor's responsibilities begin once you pass away. At that point your will will be submitted to the New York Surrogate's Court to be probated. This is the process during which the executor will wind up your estate and eventually distribute your assets to the beneficiaries you designate. The probate process, which can be complicated and lengthy, is overseen by a Surrogate's Court judge. The executor must keep accurate records as to all of the activities that he or she completes on behalf of the estate, and must keep accurate records of all money coming into the estate and all money distributed from the estate. The Surrogate's Court judge will review the records and ensure that the executor handled the estate assets properly. If the judge finds that the executor mismanaged estate assets, then the consequences to the executor will be severe. In order to properly manage an estate, if you are an executor it is important you contact an experienced New York Estate Accounting Lawyer who will help ensure that you properly fulfilled your duties, including providing an accurate accounting.Duties of the Executor
One of the first jobs of the executor is to take control over the decedent's assets. Estates assets may include real estate, vehicles, artwork, collectibles, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, furniture, and other personal property. The executor must inventory your assets and have them appraised. The executor will then have an understanding of where the estates stands from the beginning and his or her records should reflect this. An accurate inventory and appraisal of estate assets is a necessary in order for the executor to understand what assets are available to pay estate debts and to distribute to beneficiaries.
Another major responsibility for the executor is to pay estate debts. This may involve paying everyday bills such as the mortgage, insurance, utilities and credit card bills. It may also involve paying other legitimate estate debts such as the testator's funeral expenses and estate taxes. The executor must keep accurate records of each of these transactions.
In addition to paying debts, the estate may receive income. For example, if the estate includes rental property then the executor has a duty to collect rent. Similarly, if the estate has claims against others, then it is the executor's job to pursue those claims and secure payment. Just like money that is paid out of the estate, money that is paid into the estate must be accounted for by the executor.
Once debts are paid and claims are resolved, the executor will submit a final accounting to the court and request permission to close the estate and distribute its assets to the beneficiaries named in the will.Estate Accounting
The executor's accounting must be accurate, complete and supported by documentation. This means that there must be a receipt for each disbursement. Examples of disbursements include payment of expenses and fees related to management of the estate such as attorney's fees and taxes. Likewise, there must be receipts or supporting documentation for money received by the estate. Other important documentation that should be included with the accounting are bank and brokerage account statements that can verify balances, debits and credits.
Because of the fiduciary relationship that an executor has with respect to the estate and the testator's beneficiaries, it is critical that the executor handle estate property with the utmost care. Accurate records are necessary to support that the executor fulfilled his or her duties properly. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has extensive estate planning experience and frequently represents clients before the New York Surrogate's Court. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your estate matter.