Dallas Estate Accounting Attorneys
If the executor or administrator of your deceased family member’s estate doesn’t provide an accounting, contact Staubus and Randall immediately. We could represent you in a case against the executor for failing to uphold their duties or engaging in fraudulent activity while administering the estate.
At Staubus and Randall, we represent beneficiaries in estate accounting matters after the death of a loved one. You should have access to various documentation and receive updates regarding the financial conditions of the property in the estate. If the executor or administrator withholds necessary information or violates your rights, you could seek legal action against them.
Understanding the Elements of Estate Accounting
An accounting is a written document that includes details regarding an estate’s financial condition. It contains information about the disposition of property, debts, taxes, and other relevant details.
Interested parties can request an accounting if the executor or administrator of the estate doesn’t file one.
The executor owes beneficiaries a fiduciary duty to disclose accounting information. The right to obtain formal accounting begins fifteen months after the court issues letters testamentary or a letter of administration authorizing the administration of the estate.
Texas Laws Regarding Estate Accounting
Sometimes beneficiaries feel excluded from the probate process. While an executor or administrator handles the estate, they might not be as communicative as the beneficiaries would like about their estate-related activities. That doesn’t necessarily mean an executor has hidden something or purposely withheld information. However, knowing how someone handles the estate and the status of various assets is the beneficiary’s right.
According to Texas Estates Code 404.001, interested persons may demand an accounting from the administrator or executor of the estate fifteen months after the court issues a letter of administration or letters testamentary. The executor must provide the demanded information in writing. That information could include:
- Any estate property that came into the possession of the executor
- Dispositions of the property
- Paid debts
- Expenses and debts the estate still owes
- Any estate property still in the executor’s possession
- Other facts necessary to provide a definite and full understanding of the estate’s exact condition
- Any facts that demonstrate why the executor can’t close administration and distribute the remaining assets
Upon demanding information, any other interested party can receive a copy of the accounting or any exhibit the executor made under state law.
If the executor doesn’t furnish an accounting within 60 days of the date of the interested party’s demand, the interested party could pursue legal action in probate court. The court might issue an order requiring the executor to comply with state law and provide the required accounting information.
Besides the initial accounting, beneficiaries can also request periodic accounting. The executor can only supply the information in intervals of twelve months or more after the initial accounting has been provided.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Options
Estate administration can become contentious among beneficiaries and executors. There might be disagreements over how someone handles the process or questions regarding the exact assets left in the estate.
If you must pursue a lawsuit to resolve the dispute, it could be a time-consuming and costly process. An alternate solution could be beneficial and help you reach a favorable outcome.
Texas law doesn’t require the parties involved in probate administration to participate in alternative dispute resolution (ADR). However, the court might order mediation or arbitration for opposing sides to try to work out the issue outside of court before proceeding with litigation.
Mediation and arbitration have similar goals but different methods. Both aim to settle legal matters without the court’s involvement.
During mediation, opposing parties meet with a mediator to try to resolve the issue. The mediator must listen to each side’s wishes and recommend solutions. Mediators don’t make decisions for the parties. Mediators can’t issue judgments or force a resolution. They are simply there to suggest how to settle the matter outside of court.
The various benefits of mediation include:
- Less money – Typically, mediation is cheaper than pursuing a lawsuit in court. That’s because you don’t have to worry about paying as many attorneys’ fees or having lawyers prepare court filings. The time you spend in mediation only requires the fees your attorney charges and mediation costs, such as reserving a room for the meeting.
- Confidentiality – When you enter a will into probate, it becomes a matter of public record. Every hearing you attend and the documentation you provide to the judge also become a matter of public record and accessible to anyone with access to the internet. Mediation is private. Outside parties can’t request the information or obtain copies of any documents that are used in the mediation.
- Flexibility – Mediation is more flexible than litigation. There’s room for discussing how you want to handle the matter and negotiating the terms of an agreement.
- Informal setting – Unlike courtrooms, mediation rooms aren’t as intimidating. Instead of standing before a judge, you can sit in a conference room, attorney’s office, or another relaxed environment to discuss the dispute. You can also speak freely about the case without the need to meet procedural requirements.
- More control – Each party involved in mediation has a say in the outcome of the case. Unlike litigation, where the judge issues a ruling, both sides have control over how to settle the matter.
Arbitration is similar to mediation in many ways. It takes place in an informal setting, costs less than litigation, and allows each side more control over negotiations.
Both parties can meet with an arbitrator during the arbitration to discuss the dispute. Each side has the opportunity to present evidence and testimonies and advise how they would like to resolve the issues. However, the arbitrator has the authority to issue a legally binding decision.
At Staubus and Randall, our Dallas estate accounting attorneys understand the stress and frustration of discovering the estate’s executor or administrator aren’t fulfilling their duties. You have a right to various accounting information while settling your loved one’s estate. Our team can represent your interests and pursue legal action on your behalf.
If you face a dispute regarding an estate’s accounting, call Staubus and Randall at 214-691-3411 for your free consultation today.