Once a fiduciary has compiled an Inventory of the assets under direction of a Probate Estate or passing according the Trust terms, the next role is the maintain accurate books and records of in-flows and disbursements from the accounts under management. A critical requirement is that a fiduciary not co-mingle these assets with personal assets or engage in self-dealing transactions that benefit the fiduciary personally and harm the Estate or Trust. Many otherwise avoidable disputes could have been cured by accurate records being kept and ready to be shared with interested parties entitled to the information.
Many fiduciaries our firm works with are not professionals and most have never served before as an Executor or Trustee. Our office is able to provide whatever level of accounting assistance and advice a fiduciary needs to properly perform these duties. In many cases our firm takes over dealing with, and communicating with creditors and service providers to be sure records of all payments made on Estate and Trust are accurate and complete.
Fiduciary accounting also extends to optimal income tax planning for Trusts and probate estates. A separate tax return is required for Trusts after the death of a Grantor (a form 1041) which is also used for probate estates. The income tax rules and elections available for these returns are complex and require special planning. For example, not only can Trusts and Estates combine income into one return, but fiscal years tax reporting (rather than calendar year returns) can be used when the results are beneficial.