What Is an Estate Accounting?
One of the critical tasks for a personal representative administering a Florida probate estate is to prepare a final accounting. Typically, the personal representative must file this accounting with 12 months of the formal opening of the state. In addition to filing the final accounting with the court, the personal representative must also provide copies to certain “interested persons,” including the beneficiaries of the estate.
What Does a Final Accounting Include?
Under Florida Probate Rules, an estate or “fiduciary” accounting must include a listing of “all cash and property transactions,” as well as a “schedule of assets at the end of the accounting period.” The accounting must be presented in a “manner that is understandable to persons who are not familiar” with accounting terminology. It should also include a brief statement explaining the purpose of the accounting, which is to “acquaint all interested persons” with any financial transactions involving the estate’s assets.
A typical Florida estate final accounting has six parts:
- Starting balance – This includes assets listed in the inventory of the estate, i.e., the property under the personal representative’s control at the opening of the estate.
- Receipts – This refers to all property and other items received that are not listed on the inventory.
- Disbursements – This includes any money paid out by the personal representative, including payments of the deceased person’s debts, the expenses of their final illness, and any normal costs of administering the estate.
- Distributions – This refers to any money or property distributed to a beneficiary of the estate, such as a bequest of cash under the will.
- Capital Transactions and Adjustments – This section describes any changes in the value of an estate asset; for example, if the estate sells any stock, the accounting must note any gain or loss on the sale.
- Assets on Hand at Close of Accounting – Although most estates are closed within a single accounting period, there are times when the personal representative needs to file an initial or interim account; for such non-final accounts, it is necessary to show which assets remain at the end of the accounting period.
Who Is Entitled to See the Probate Accounting?
Under Florida law, any “interested person” is entitled to a copy of the personal representative’s inventory and accounting. An interested person is defined as “any person who may reasonably be expected to be affected by the outcome of the particular proceeding involved.” In the context of a probate estate, this includes anyone named in the deceased person’s will, as well as anyone who would stand to inherit the estate by law if there is no will (or the will is found invalid).
Get Advice from a Lee County, Florida Probate Attorney
If you have never even balanced a checkbook before, the prospect of managing an estate accounting may seem daunting. An experienced Fort Myers estate and probate administration lawyer can guide you through the process. Contact the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529 today if you need to speak with a qualified probate attorney today.