Probate Procedure: Fiduciaries and Filing the Final Account

When you are the recipient of an estate in a probate procedure, there is a lot of paperwork and court-related activities involved. The process, which normally takes a few months, culminates when the fiduciary files this last piece of paperwork: the final account. According to the Connecticut Probate Court's Guidelines for Administration of Decedent's Estates, this is a mandatory part of the probate process. This piece of paperwork is normally reserved for probate cases where a fiduciary is involved. A fiduciary works for the beneficiary by exercising care with the assets in an inheritance. Once the fiduciary has paid all debt expenses and taxes, this important part of the process becomes relevant. These forms are normally filed within a year of the decedent's passing. The forms are known as Administration Accounts, and normally go by codes. In Connecticut, for example, fiduciaries must file a PC-241 or a PC-242. This may vary from state to state, since probate is a state court regulated procedure.

The purpose of these forms is to show the court and the beneficiaries of the estate of all the income and assets that were received with the fortune and the expenses that were paid in the probate process to satisfy any lasting debts. The form shows the balance of receipts over expenses and how that effects that settlement of the estate. Once the fiduciary has filed this form, the beneficiaries have the right to attend a court hearing and ask questions about or object to the proposed distribution of funds. If they believe that the fiduciary used the assets in an inappropriate or flawed way, they can contest this before the probate judge. The contested complaints or discussions can go on until both parties receive a happy medium.

If the beneficiaries sign an Acceptance and Waiver Final Account PC-245, or a document of the same status, then they are indicating that they agree with the distribution of assets. This means that they are giving the courts permission to waive a formal hearing and save time. This allows the probate court to act on the account, and gives beneficiaries the right to receive their inheritance quicker. In order to sign this waiver, heirs must read the final account and review it carefully, because any future issues may be lost for contest.

There are certain circumstances where the fiduciary may not need to file an administration account. This normally happens when there is no beneficiary that is the trustee of a testamentary or inter-vivos trust. For clarification, an inter-vivos trust is a trust created by writing which commences while the creator is alive. It is also known as a living trust. If the fiduciary of the estate is also one of the beneficiaries, then he or she may not need to file a final account, as well as if all the other distributions to the other heirs are specific bequests or devises.

When this happens, the fiduciary may need to file a Statement in Lieu of an Account instead. In this paperwork, the fiduciary will state under oath that all debts have been paid, and also show that all funeral expenses and taxes have been taken care of. He or she will also need to list the total of the return of claims filed, and list the amount inventoried in the estate. He or she will also need to show that all specific bequests have been or are in the process of being paid in full, and that all the people who have distributed the estate have a copy of the statement in lieu of the account.

Last, this statement must itemize all funeral expenses, taxes, and other expenses of administration. When every party that is interested in the estate signs an Acceptance and Waiver: Statement in Lieu of Account, then they may be able to excuse the fiduciary from any further responsibility. The court may also take this as a permission to waive a formal hearing with the parties and enact the probate. While these regulations are pretty standard, check with your state attorney to see what the alterations are in your location.