FAUQUIER COUNTY COMMISSIONER OF ACCOUNTS OFFICE
The Fauquier Commissioner of Accounts Office (COA) oversees all probates in Fauquier County. They receive between 375 and 425 account filings each year. Of these, approximately 300 filings are new matters. In the recent past, most of those filings were estates and trusts.
At present, the Fauquier COA’s office staff consists of two full time, one part-time, and three seasonal support staff, plus one attorney and the Commissioner of Accounts.
2. Location and Contact Info
Address: 9 Culpeper Street, 2nd Floor, Warrenton, VA 20186
3. Checklists and Questionnaires
Top Rules for Fiduciaries is a helpful list of Do's and Don'ts for every executor or administrator handling the probate of a Fauquier County estate.
Information for Fiduciaries is the detailed booklet handed out to all persons who qualify as a personal representative in the Fauquier Probate Office.
4. Video Introduction to the Fauquier County Commissioner of Accounts Office
In August 2016 interview, Fauquier County Commissioner of Accounts Gary M. Pearson discussed the role of his office in the administration of Fauquier County estates from the filing of the Inventory, accounting for all assets received and disbursed, beneficiary distributions, common pitfalls to avoid, advice for beneficiaries, and much more. A video replay of this interview can be viewed at Resources-Television show.
5. Common Questions
Below are some of the questions that Commissioner Gary Pearson addressed in his August 2016 interview, or that he shared with us in the course of preparing for that interview.
Q: Once qualified, what are some of the very first steps a personal representative should take in order to be able to properly administer an estate that your office will be auditing along the way ?
Answer: Review the Initial letter from office that specifies the deadlines you must meet.
Review the extensive detailed Information for Fiduciaries booklet given to you at the time you were qualified.
Open a separate bank account in the name of the Estate,
Marshall the assets of the estate and determine value at date of death
Q: What is the most common reason an account is not approved by your office?
Answer: Not enough documentation provided to support the account filed. Almost half of the accounts are not approved on the first submission because of lack of vouchers, documentation and explanation. Need all monthly statements for brokerage and checking accounts
Q: An Insolvent Estate is a very serious problem. Explain for us what that means, the risks that a fiduciary faces with an insolvent estate, and how your office can help deal with insolvency?
Answer: If a probate estate is insolvent, meaning there are more debt than assets to pay those debts, it is critically important that the personal representative consult with an attorney. VA Code Section 64.2-528 prorates into nine categories the estate assets among various creditors, and the order of priority as to who gets paid first. Priority is given to funeral bills, taxes and various Code of Virginia exemptions. Fiduciary is personally responsible if he does not pay the creditors in the order set forth in the Code of Virginia. There is a process to determine exactly who the creditors are and the amount owed to them in each category through a Debts and Demand Hearing. Please consult with an attorney.
Q: Do you do any public outreach education programs?
Answer: Always available for public reach program, speeches to the Bar Associations, and to provide general information on how to get through the estate administration process. My interview on The Probate Nation is a first, and I hope it provides helpful knowledge as part of our ongoing effort to inform the Fauquier County community.
Q: Does a fiduciary need to hire and attorney or a CPA to help them get through all of these details?
Answer: Virginia has a user fee system to support a semi-supervised probate system, but it is not a full supervision with a fully staffed probate court. 90% of fiduciaries want to do the right thing, but up to 50% make inadvertent errors in distribution and disbursement which are caught and corrected by the Commissioner’s system and are memorialized in transparent recorded accounts for later review by interested parties. Some of those errors expose the fiduciary to personal liability. The assistance of an attorney and CPA early and in the course of the estate administration will serve to minimize these errors and protect the fiduciary.