Probate – Inventory and Final Accounting: Do I Need To Do Them?

Probate – Inventory and Final Accounting: Do I Need To Do Them?

When it falls to a family member, friend, or trusted confidant to take on the role of executor it comes with a lot of responsibility. You are accepting the duty of faithfully administering a person’s entire estate, property that they have accrued and managed throughout their entire lives. Sometimes these estates can reach into the millions of dollars and with that being the case, the court finds it very important to see that both an inventory is being kept and at the end, before a probate case can be properly closed, that a final accounting is submitted and approved by the court. But what is the difference between these two responsibilities.

The Inventory is a statutorily required duty that has been waived by judges in certain courtrooms, however it is important to prepare and submit regardless. For starters, even if the judge isn’t going to give you a hard time for not filing one, creditors or displeased heirs may. An inventory is required by statute to be submitted within 60 days after the letters of office are given to the executor 755 ILCS 5/14-1. This inventory should describe the real estate and its value along with any improvements, any personal property owned by the deceased, and the amount of money on hand in the estate. Most often, estates are closed within a year of opening but if the estate stays open longer than a year it is required that another inventory be submitted after one year. If this inventory is not filed, it can be grounds for a beneficiary of the estate to call for the removal of the executor as they are technically not performing their duties.

The final accounting is very similar to the inventory however it must only be filed once. At the end of the estate administration when the executor has distributed all the assets, paid all the creditors, and is now ready to close down the estate they must submit two documents. The final report and the final accounting. The final report is essentially just a statement by the executor that all the money has been distrusted, estate taxes, if applicable have been paid, the heirs have been paid, and the creditors are satisfied. The final accounting is a description of how the estate funds have been paid out. Usually what is recommended is for the executor to keep all of the estate money in a single bank account and then refer to those bank records in order to create the final accounting. The account should state what the real estate was sold for and what was done with this money. Whenever the executor is ready to file their final report and final accounting, they send out a notice of accounting to all heirs and executors 755 ILCS 5/24-1.

After the notice is sent out, a hearing is set on the final accounting. The hearing is an opportunity for any disputes to be heard by creditors or heirs that feel they have not received their proper payout and dispute what is stated in the final accounting. At the end of the hearing if there are no disputes brought, then the accounting becomes binding on all parties.

If you’re an executor and need assistance with administering the estate you’re in charge with or have questions regarding your accounting/inventory, consider giving the Law Offices of Andrew Szocka P.C. a call at 815-455-8430 or shoot us an email at szocka@szocka.com. We would love to assist you!

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