STEP #7: ACCOUNTING TO THE COMMISSIONER OF ACCOUNTS (AND BENEFICIARIES)
One of the most important task each executor has is keeping good records of assets and income received, and funds disbursed to creditors and beneficiaries. And, those records are critically important in completing the accounting to the local Commissioner of Accounts that is required in the probate of most [but not all] estates.
The reporting to the Commissioner of Accounts begins with the filing of the Inventory [discussed at Step #4
]. But the more difficult task is the annual accounting that is reported on the Estate Account form. This otherwise simple Form that requires 11 lines to be completed has confused and confounded some the brightest executors (and attorneys). Seems like simple math of addition and subtraction. Yet, it is a bit more complicated.
Remember, though, that the local Commissioner of Accounts is there to help you. They serve the public and do a wonderful job. But they are bound by rules that they must apply in all estate accountings they review. So, they will help guide you, but you will need to do your part to help them help you.
In addition to the many public outreach and education efforts by all the Northern Virginia Commissioners of Accounts, you may find informative the Video Tutorials below about the accounting process, including what should be reported on each line of that simple Estate Account form, and what documentation you will need to support the numbers you report.
2. Forms and Checklists
a. Estate Account Form - An Overview. Interview of Traci Wenberg, VP of Administration, and Cathy Brudvig, Head Auditor, of the Fairfax County Commissioner of Accounts Office. Traci and Cathy provide an overview of the Estate Account form that must be submitted annually to the Commissioner of Accounts for review, audit and approval, with special attention on what documentation is necessary and acceptable to support what you report on the 11 lines of this "simple form". Important viewing shortly after you have been qualified so you get started correctly in obtaining and preserving the supporting documentation for your Estate Account.
b. Sample Estate Account Prepared. Interview of Cathy Brudvig, Head Auditor of the Fairfax County Commissioner of Accounts Office. Cathy reviews the typical assets, receipts and disbursements in a sample Estate and shows how each line of the Estate Account form should be completed. Very instructive, as Cathy provides valuable tips on how to prepare the Estate Account so it can be approved by the Commissioner, and points out common mistakes both in reporting on the Estate Account form and in the documentation submitted to support what is reported. Very practical and hands on presentation that you will find very helpful as you put the Estate Account together.
Cathy refers to Sample Estate Account - Annotated in the course of her interview. This PDF document will be helpful to have in front of you as you watch Cathy's very informative tutorial.