This is the seventh in a series of posts on the basics of D.C. probate administration. You can read previous posts in this series including Part I: high-level differences between Virginia and D.C. estate administrations (here), Part II: qualifying to be a D.C. personal representative (here), and Part III: Opening the Estate (here), Part IV: Supervised/Unsupervised (here), Part V: Notice and VCNO (here), and Part VI: the Inventory.
This post will describe the account and account process that occurs during an estate administration.
An account tells you the basic financial story that transpires of a period of time during the administration. The first accounting must state all property and money the personal representative has collected, been charged with or disbursed covering the time period of the account.
An account is essentially the balance sheet of the estate. The accounting starts from the beginning with the assets derived from the initial inventory and tallies financial events that occur during the administration. The account will determine this by reviewing the receipts, gains on sales and adjustments against distributions for debts and administration expenses, disbursements to beneficiaries and heirs, losses on sales and ending assets, etc. Every figure must be supported by documentation listing each transactions, asset or adjustment. For example, a distribution to a beneficiary can be supported by a canceled check or the value of an asset from a bank or brokerage statement.
However, like other estate filings, whether the estate is supervised or unsupervised determines the filing time and complexity of the account filing.
For a supervised estate, the first accounting must be filed with the Court no later than one year and one day after the date of first publication of the Notice of Appointment. Many times, the first account will also be the final account and the estate administration is closed. But, if needed, in a supervised estate, subsequent accounts are due every nine months from the date of the filing of the last account until distribution of the estate is completed.
Accounts must be typed on forms prescribed by the Register of Wills. For supervised estates, the account must contain the following information:
- All assets of the decedent that have come into the hands of the personal representative and their values, and any property of the decedent not collected;
- All property sold or otherwise disposed of;
- All disbursements made;
- All gains and losses realized;
- All investments made and all changes of investment, with a description of each such transaction;
- A schedule of distributions; and
- For all non-final accounts, a detailed explanation as to why the estate is being held open.
Notice also must be given within 15 days prior to the filing of an account; the personal representative must mail to all heirs or legatees a copy of the account with a notice that the account will be filed on or before a stated date.
For unsupervised estates, the requirements are less onerous. An accounting for an unsupervised estate is to be prepared “at reasonable intervals, or on reasonable demand.” A good rule of thumb is to send an account to the heirs and legatees on approximately the same time schedule as a supervised estate. But, the personal representative does not have to file the account with the Court.
There is not set form for an account in an unsupervised estate. But, if a final account is being filed notice must be sent to all interested persons, which includes creditors of the estate who have filed a claim greater than $500 and whose claim has not been barred or discharged.
Now, that many of the procedural issues of an estate administration have been covered, next time I will get into how an estate is closed in D.C. Though, given the likelihood the Supreme Court ruling on the Windsor case, it will likely not be the next post.