In Texas, while an executor of an estate does have to file an inventory, appraisement, and list of claims with the probate court, they are not necessarily required to show accountings to beneficiaries.
A personal representative must file an inventory of the estate assets within 90 days of qualification. After that, in a dependent administration, the representative must file an annual accounting with the probate court that details updates to the status of the estate, including creditor claims presented, paid, or rejected and any changes in estate assets. However, an independent administrator is not required to file an annual accounting. Additionally, any time after 15 months after letters have issued to the personal representative, a beneficiary can demand the personal representative provide a statutory estate accounting.
Can Beneficiaries Demand to See Deceased Bank Statements?
No, generally, beneficiaries cannot demand to see the decedent’s bank statements unless they are also a personal representative of the estate.
However, it is within the executor’s discretion to share bank statements with beneficiaries upon request. The beneficiaries are also legally entitled to receive certain information about the estate’s assets, and the executor must disclose material facts related to the estate, which can include bank statements.
Under Texas Estates Code § 309.051, the personal representative must file a verified, complete, and detailed inventory of all estate property that has come into the representative’s possession or of which the representative has knowledge by the 90th day after they are appointed.
The inventory must include all of the estate’s real property in Texas and all of its personal property, no matter where it is located. The personal representative must also include the fair market value of each item in the inventory. The fair market value may be based on an appraisal or the personal representative’s opinion or estimation.
What is an Accounting of an Estate?
In Texas, in a dependent administration, an accounting of an estate is a written pleading that the personal representative makes under oath before a notary. In an independent administration under Texas Estates Code § 404.001, the independent executor is required to serve an estate accounting to any interested person within 60 days from demand. A personal representative is required to include detailed information about the estate’s assets and liabilities and the personal representative’s progress in administering the estate.
An independent executor must include the following under Texas Estates Code § 404.001:
- the property belonging to the estate that has come into the executor’s possession as executor.
- the disposition of the estate property.
- the debts that have been paid.
- the debts and expenses, if any, still owed by the estate.
- the estate property, if any, still remaining in the executor’s possession.
- other facts as may be necessary to a full and definite understanding of the exact condition of the estate.
- the facts, if any, that show why the administration should not be closed and the estate distributed.
According to Texas Estates Code § 359.001, in a dependent administration, the pleading must specify the claims:
- rejected and the date of rejection.
- for which a lawsuit has been filed and the status of that suit.
The account must also include:
- All estate property that was not previously listed or inventoried.
- Any changes in estate property that were not previously reported.
- A complete account of receipts and disbursements, including the source and nature of the receipts and disbursements, with separate listings for principal and income receipts.
- A complete, accurate, and detailed description of the property being administered, the condition of the property, the use being made of the property, and if rented, the terms on which and the price for which the property was rented.
- The cash balance on hand and the name and location of the depository where the balance is kept.
- Any other cash held in a savings account or other manner that was deposited subject to a court order and the name and location of the depository for that cash.
- A detailed description of the estate’s personal property that shows how and where the property is held for safekeeping.
- A statement that all tax returns due have been filed and all taxes due and owing have been paid, including a complete account of the amount of the taxes, the date the taxes were paid, and the governmental entity to which the taxes were paid.
- If tax returns or tax payments are delinquent, the reasons for and a description of the delinquency.
- A statement that the representative has paid all the required bond premiums for the accounting period.
Additionally, the personal representative must include with the accounting documentary evidence of certain assets. The specific documentary requirements for the accounting in a dependent administration may vary based on the court.
When Should I Contact a Probate Litigation Attorney?
If you suspect that a personal representative is mismanaging the administration of an estate you have an interest in, you should contact a probate litigation attorney as soon as possible. There are multiple legal actions you can take to protect the estate assets and your right to inheritance.
For instance, if assets are missing from the personal representative’s inventory of the estate, you can file an objection with the probate court requesting that the personal representative file an amended inventory, appraisement, and list of claims.
Additionally, if the personal representative fails to file or serve a legally-required accounting, you can petition to have he or she removed from their position. You can also request removal if the representative misapplies or embezzles any estate property, or the evidence shows that they are about to do so.
An experienced probate litigation attorney can review the specific circumstances of your situation and explain the legal remedies available to you. It’s vital that you take action as soon as possible if you believe that estate assets may be lost, so contact a reputable lawyer as soon as you can.
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