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Inventory & Accounts

Virginia Estate Law - Inventory & Accounts

Commissioner of Accounts
Disbursements & Distributions
Insolvent Estates

Within 16 months after qualification, a Virginia personal representative must file his or her first accounting of the the estate assets with the Commissioner of Accounts.

The accounting must state all money and other property which the personal representative has received, or become charged with, or has disbursed within twelve months from the date of qualification.

As stated above, the account is for a 12 month period, with the first account due 16 months after qualification. Therefore, the personal representative has 4 months after the end of the accounting period within which to prepare and file the accounting.

The filing dates are deadline dates. The personal representative may file his or her accounting earlier if the estate has been settled and the account fully prepared prior to the deadlines. Normally a Commissioner will not approve an account earlier than 6 months following the decedent's death in order to allow reasonable time for the filing of claims against the estate.

Accounts should be prepared on the forms and in accordance with the instructions provided by the clerk of court at the time of qualification by the personal representative.

The form provided by the clerk is essentially a balance sheet that summarizes and balances the beginning assets (from the inventory or prior account), receipts, gains on sales and adjustments against distributions for debts and administration expenses, disbursements to beneficiaries and heirs, losses on sales and ending assets.

The total figure stated in each of the main sections of the cover sheet must be supported by attached and complete itemizations of each transaction, asset, or adjustment.

The personal representative is also required to provide supporting documents for each entry on the accounting. For disbursements or distributions, this will normally include original canceled checks or written receipts. Bank and brokerage account statements are required to verify receipts, losses and gains on sales, and remaining assets on hand at the end of the accounting.

By law, the Commissioner of Accounts must require supporting documentation for all account entries. Failure to provide appropriate supporting documents may result in disapproval of the account by the commissioner, and liability on the part of the personal representative for the amount involved.

There are certain special rules regarding supporting documentation for corporate fiduciaries (such as banks), rules that may allow copies of checks if bank statements are provided, and transfer statements for certain types of asset transfers. If you have any uncertainty as to the supporting documentation that you must provide, ask for assistance from your attorney or contact the Commissioner of Accounts.

In almost every case you should open a separate bank account for the estate. Never commingle your personal funds with estate funds. You should also obtain a tax identification number from the IRS for the estate.

I always recommend that personal representatives open the estate bank account with a bank that provides canceled checks. Not all banks do these days. It will become important to have these canceled checks as supporting documents for your account to the Commissioner.

The accounting form contains a certification that must be signed by each appointed personal representative for the estate stating that the account is a true and accurate account of the estate assets for the period of the accounting. If the account is a final account the certification states that to the best of the personal representative's knowledge all taxes have been paid or provided for.

Accountings must be timely filed with the Commissioner of Accounts along with the required filing fees for the Commissioner and the clerk of court.

The preparation of estate accounts can, in some instances, be complicated depending on the circumstances of the estate. It can become a daunting task if the assets are substantial, difficult to track (as they can be on some brokerage statements) or if the personal representative due to work and family obligations has limited time.

The proper accounting of assets is an area of estate administration that can result in legal action against and liability for the personal representative who cannot properly account for the assets.

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