Circuit Court Probate Division Rules Table of Contents
The following standards shall be applicable to all interim and final accountings of Administrators, trustees, guardians and conservators, required or permitted to be filed with the Court.
A. Accounts shall be stated in a manner that is understandable by Persons who are not familiar with practices and terminology peculiar to the administration of estates, trusts, guardianships and conservatorships.
1. All accounts shall be rendered on a cash basis, except in extraordinary circumstances upon specific written order of the Court.
2. All accounts shall be rendered for a specified period, with an indicated opening and closing date. Such period shall be for not more than twelve months ending on the last day of a calendar month, unless otherwise ordered by the Court. A first accounting shall begin on the date of appointment and end on the last day of the calendar month next preceding the anniversary month of appointment, unless a shorter period is specified in such accounting, or unless otherwise modified upon appropriate Motion to the Court. Accounts subsequent to the first account shall be for periods of twelve (12) months. An accounting other than a first account may be for a shorter period if it is appropriate because a specified event (such as death of a beneficiary or ward; closing the estate; or date specified in the applicable Court order or will) occurs, resulting in a change in the responsibilities or duties of the Fiduciary.
3. For Administrators, accounts shall list all receipts by source (other than the principal value of real estate, unless the real estate has been actually sold by the Fiduciary) and all disbursements by payee. Gains and losses on disposition of property shall be netted and reported with receipts.
4. For trustees, accounts shall list separately all receipts and disbursements of principal by source and by payee; and all receipts and disbursements of income by source and by payee. Gains and losses on disposition of property shall be netted and reported with receipts of principal.
5. For guardians and conservators, accounts shall list separately all receipts by source and all disbursements by payee. Gains and losses on disposition of property shall be netted and reported with receipts. For each asset comprising the reported "Balance in Hands of Fiduciary," excluding all Tangible Personal Property, the Fiduciary shall provide Proof of Assets.
6. All accountings shall be capable of being understood by a Person of average intelligence, literate in English, and familiar with basic financial terms, and who has read the accounting with care and attention.
7. The use of terms of special meaning, such as "debit" or "credit" or abbreviations, should be avoided or explained.
B. A Fiduciary account shall begin with a concise summary of its purpose and content. The account shall begin with a brief statement identifying the Fiduciary, the subject matter, the relationship of Parties interested in the account to the account, and, if applicable, appropriate notice of any limitations on or requirements for action by Parties interested in the account. The following information shall be provided.
1. The sequence of the account (first, second, etc.) and identification of a final account as such.
2. The period covered by the account, with an indicated opening and closing date ( i.e., the accounting period).
3. Identification of the Fiduciary by name; title (executor, administrator, etc.); mailing address; and telephone number through which Fiduciary may be contacted.
4. At the Fiduciary's option, a statement of the purposes of filing the account.
5. Identification of the Attorney, if any, representing the Fiduciary by name; business address; and telephone number.
6. Identification of the Parties interested in the account as of the date of filing, by name; capacity in which interested in the account (remainderman, income beneficiary, ward, heir-at-law, etc.); and last known residence or business address.
7. A summary of the total receipts, total disbursements and total balance on hand at the end of the account, all expressed in dollar values, supported by schedules in the account.
C. A Fiduciary account shall contain sufficient information to put parties interested in the account on notice as to all significant transactions affecting administration during the accounting period.
1. The first account of a Fiduciary shall detail the items received by the Fiduciary and for which the Fiduciary is responsible. The account shall not simply refer to the total amount of an inventory filed separately or assets described in documents other than the account itself. Tangible Personal Property may be referred to in summary form; provided, however, that such summary designates where detailed lists of the applicable Tangible Personal Property may be located.
2. In second and subsequent accounts, the opening balance shall not simply refer to the total value of assets on hand as shown in detail in the prior account, but shall list each item separately. Tangible Personal Property may be referred to in summary form, as in the manner prescribed for first accounts.
3. Transactions shall be described in sufficient detail to give Parties interested in the account notice of their purpose and effect.
4. All balances on hand shall be itemized, on a separate schedule.
5. When filing the final account in the administration of an intestate estate, if the balance passes to more than one heir, the Fiduciary shall file a separate schedule listing in detail the computation and satisfaction of disbursements provided under the laws of intestacy, in order to reconcile the aggregate of such disbursements.
6. Compensation of Attorneys, professionals, and Fiduciaries shall be shown separately in summary form, unless otherwise ordered by the Court. Extraordinary administrative costs (such as appraisals, ancillary administration expenses, etc.) shall be shown separately and explained. Administrative costs of Court and other fees, postage, copying, telephone toll charges, and similar routine out-of-pocket expenses may be shown in summary form.
7. With regard to disposition of real estate by a Fiduciary, the Fiduciary shall show the date of disposition, the gross sales price or disposition value, plus all adjustments to such price or value incident to the disposition, including costs of sale and applicable real estate and transfer taxes, to permit ready determination, by Parties interested in the account, of how the net sale proceeds received by the Fiduciary were calculated.
8. With regard to gains and losses on disposition of property, the Fiduciary shall provide with regard to each disposition the date of disposition, proceeds of disposition and book value or cost of the disposed property.
9. Interest and penalties paid in connection with late filing of tax returns, late payment of tax liabilities, of any nature, probate citations for late filing or failure to file reports or accountings, shall be shown separately and explained.
10. An extraordinary allocation between principal and income shall be separately stated and explained.
11. If the Fiduciary makes an allocation, such as the computation of a formula marital deduction gift, involving non-probate assets, it shall be explained in detail; provided, however, that the non-probate assets involved in such computation may be stated in summary form.
12. No disbursements for administrative expenses shall be listed as "estimated" or "reserved" without explanation.
D. A Fiduciary account shall include both book value or cost of assets and current values of such assets at the beginning and end of the accounting period.
1. "Book value" (a) for Administrators, shall be the value of the property at the date of death; (b) for trustees, shall be the book value of the prior Fiduciary from whom the property was received; and (c) for guardians and conservators, shall be the value of the property at the date of appointment.
2. "Cost" shall be the consideration given or paid by a Fiduciary with regard to property initially acquired by the Fiduciary.
3. If book values at initial valuation cannot be readily determined, the values used shall reflect a thoughtful decision by the appraiser; and the explanation of the principal factors determining such decision shall be set forth in the account in which such values are first reported.
4. If current values for interim or final accountings cannot be readily determined, the values used shall reflect a good faith judgment by the Fiduciary; and the explanation of the principal factors determining such decision shall be set forth in the account. Such valuation shall be subject to approval of the Court.
5. Book value or cost shall not normally be adjusted for depreciation except upon specific written order of the Court.
6. Book value based on date of death may be adjusted to reflect federal valuation elections or changes on audit of the estate or inheritance tax returns, upon appropriate Motion to the Court.
7. A successor Fiduciary or co-Fiduciary may adjust the book value or cost of assets to reflect values at the start of the administration of, or subsequent receipt of assets by, the successor Fiduciary or co-Fiduciary, upon appropriate Motion to the Court.
8. Assets received in kind by a Fiduciary in satisfaction of a pecuniary legacy shall be carried at the value used for the purposes of such disbursement.
9. Current values for the beginning and closing dates of the accounting period shall be determined by the same methods used to determine book value, or by reference to readily determinable fair market valuing techniques (for example, market values for readily traded securities; principal balance for certificates of deposit, etc.); provided, however, that any variations in valuing method shall be explained.
10. Accounts of the administration of any decedent's estate need not reflect current values of assets at the end of the accounting period.
11. When an asset is held by a trustee, guardian or conservator, under circumstances that make it clear that it is not likely to be disposed of (for example, a residence held for the use of a beneficiary), the Fiduciary may report an estimate of current value; provided, however, that the Fiduciary discloses the use of an estimate and the Fiduciary's basis for the estimate used.
E. The account shall show significant transactions that do not affect the amount for which the Fiduciary is accountable.
1. The schedule listing such transactions shall consist of an information schedule, which shall be set forth at the end of the other schedules required in an account, setting forth each transaction by a separate number.
2. All changes in investments not reflected as gains or losses reported on other schedules of receipts shall be listed. These would include, but not be limited to, stock dividends; stock splits; changes in name; exchanges; or reorganizations.
3. All new investments made within the accounting period, and in hand at the close thereof, shall be noted on the schedules of assets on hand at the close of the accounting period. Totally new investments, and increased or additional investments in the same investment as shown on the schedules of assets on hand at the beginning of the accounting period of the account, shall be separately designated or annotated.
4. With regard to book accounts, notes or installment obligations (whether secured or not), detail regarding collections or payments shall be provided to permit reconciliation of the balances shown on schedules of assets on hand at the beginning and the close of the accounting period.
5. The Fiduciary shall also report on the information schedule the details of any events causing or resulting in a change in the manner, method or course of the Fiduciary's administration. Such events would include, but not be limited to, death of an interim income beneficiary; shifting enjoyment of the income to another beneficiary; death of a remainderman during the course of administering an estate; or a beneficiary reaching a designated age, after which time the beneficiary has a right to mandate partial withdrawals of principal.
Circuit Court Probate Division Rules Table of Contents