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Dallas Estate Litigation Attorneys for Formal Accounting

Dallas Estate Litigation Attorneys for Formal AccountingWhen a loved one passes away, the executor of their estate is typically named in their will. If there is no will, the probate court will appoint an administrator of the estate. An executor or administrator is in charge of distributing the estate’s assets to its beneficiaries, according to the decedent’s will or state law. They also have a fiduciary duty, which means they are obligated to act in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries. If an executor does not uphold their fiduciary duty, they can be held liable for the harm their actions cause to the estate.

So what happens if you have doubts about the executor or administrator’s fidelity to their role? What can you do as an estate beneficiary, concerned family member, or loved one? Alternatively, if you are an executor or administrator of an estate, how can you protect yourself from accusations of wrongdoing and liability?

The Dallas estate litigation attorneys of Staubus and Randall have helped beneficiaries and executors on either side of this predicament through the process of producing a special legal report called “formal accounting.” Formal accounting is not a task that can be left to an inexperienced or unskilled attorney. With over 100 years of combined legal experience, the attorneys at Staubus and Randall are equipped to handle this complex but critical task.

Contact Staubus and Randall today at 214-691-3411 to speak with one of our estate litigators about the usefulness of formal accounting.

What Is Formal Accounting?

According to the Texas estate code, beneficiaries and other interested parties have the right to demand an accounting, colloquially referred to as an “informal accounting,” from the executor of their loved one’s estate. The informal accounting should include the following:

  • Property belonging to the estate that has come into the executor’s possession
  • Status of estate property that has come into the executor’s possession
  • Any remaining property still under the executor’s possession
  • Debts that have been paid by the estate
  • Debts and expenses still owed by the estate
  • Other information necessary to fully understand the condition of the estate

Furthermore, beneficiaries have the right to related documentation, statements, and receipts that support this accounting.

If the executor fails to provide this informal accounting within 60 days of the request, the beneficiary or interested party may ask the probate court to compel the executor to provide an accounting. After a hearing, the court can order the executor to provide a “formal accounting.” A formal accounting must comply with a certain format that is very detailed. A formal accounting will usually require the assistance of an experienced attorney who thoroughly understands these complicated formats, which will cost the estate additional time and money.

Reasons Why a Beneficiary May Ask for Formal Accounting

Dallas Estate Litigation Attorneys for Formal AccountingThere are many reasons why a beneficiary or other interested party may request a formal accounting, including:

  • The executor is withholding or hiding information
  • The executor may be disobeying the decedent’s wishes
  • The executor may have stolen estate assets or property
  • The executor may have mismanaged estate assets
  • The executor may have utilized estate assets or property for their own personal benefit
  • The executor may have abused their power

Reasons Why an Administrator or Executor May Want a Formal Accounting

There are some instances in which an executor may want to provide a formal accounting. If an executor has performed their fiduciary duties properly, a formal accounting will create a record of their honest performance for the court, beneficiaries, and other interested parties. This could protect the executor from liability should a beneficiary accuse them of failing to uphold their fiduciary duty down the road.

Furthermore, by providing a formal accounting before the conclusion of the probate process, the executor can use estate funds to pay for the formal accounting and legal representation to defend the accounting.

What Happens After a Formal Accounting

Once the executor provides the court with a formal accounting, the beneficiaries can review and evaluate this information for accuracy and completeness. An experienced estate litigation attorney can help you look for issues, such as:

  • Assets that are unaccounted for
  • Unexplained expenditures or losses
  • Transfers of assets or property that do not have supporting documentation
  • Accounting balances that do not match balances on supporting documentation

If the beneficiaries identify any issues with the formal accounting, they may file an objection with the court. An estate litigation attorney may even sue the executor to compel them to produce documentation through discovery. A judge will consider both sides and issue a ruling, which may order the executor to fix their mistakes, levy a surcharge against the executor, or remove the executor altogether.

How an Estate Litigation Attorney Can Help with Formal Accounting

Formal accounting is a complex task that requires the assistance of a skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable estate litigation attorney.

If you are a beneficiary or interested party concerned about the performance of an executor, an attorney can help you:

  • File a request for formal accounting with the probate court
  • Review the formal accounting and supporting documentation for issues
  • File objections to the formal accounting
  • Obtain an order for discovery and subpoena evidence if necessary
  • Defend the rights and interests of beneficiaries in court

If you are an executor of an estate asked to provide formal accounting, an attorney can help you:

  • Gather documentation required to comply with formal accounting
  • Organize the information in the court-approved format
  • File the formal accounting with the court
  • Represent the executor in litigation
  • Defend the executor’s actions in court

Contact Staubus and Randall Today for Help with Formal Accounting

If you have concerns about the performance of an executor, or you are an executor seeking to protect yourself from liability, contact Staubus and Randall today at 214-691-3411 to learn more about and get help with formal accounting.

The Firm

The attorneys at Staubus and Randall have over 100 years of combined experience in estate planning, probate, and litigation. We have the knowledge and skills to tackle complex legal issues, such as guardianships, will contests, fiduciary litigation, and trust litigation. We can also handle routine matters, such as estate administration, probating wills, heirship determinations, and other probate court matters.

Staubus and Randall received a preeminent AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating possible from a peer-rated legal service. This rating recognizes our hard work, dedication, and the case results we’re able to achieve.

Staubus & Randall Team

What Our Clients Say

"I have been a wealth management specialist and retirement plan consultant with the Dallas/Fort Worth financial community for over 20 years. I have engaged Ryan Randall to work with a number of my best clients over the years, including business owners, professionals and families. My clients always appreciate Ryan’s straightforward approach to estate planning, asset protection planning and business succession planning. He makes even the most sophisticated estate planning strategies understandable."


"Before retaining the guidance of the Staubus & Randall firm, I was at my wit's end trying to close an uncle's estate as a co-executor. In addition to dealing with difficult heirs, I had other pressing business issues coming up immediately on estate land in the middle of the Eagleford Shale including dealings with pipeline, seismic, oil & gas, and construction companies. The local bank also refused to give me access to information relating to the estate. This quickly became the most stressful and desperate time in my life...and then I found Joseph Legere who truly became my guardian angel. He was able to get all issues resolved efficiently and the estate fully closed. His professionalism, immense legal knowledge on a wide variety of topics, and amazing communication skills took the burdens off of me and quickly got closure. I am forever indebted to this firm for giving me my life back."


"Without exception, the legal service, professional attitude, prompt communication of your firm and your legal knowledge is second to none. I only wish I had an attorney here in Boston that could hold a candle to your experience and expertise. Working with you has been a pleasure, but even more, has made me believe that there are knowledgeable attorneys that do care about doing a good job. Thank you Keith! You may not truly understand how much of an impact you are having on peoples lives, but for me, you have helped change my life. As I begin making my dreams come true I can't help but remember none of this would be possible without you."


"Keith Staubus and Julie Blankenship and their team represented me in a jury trial in the probate court where the ownership of the business which I had worked hard to build was at stake. They successfully fought to preserve my business and my professional reputation, working masterfully to gain the support of the jury. I would not hesitate to hire them again in any bet-the-company litigation.”


"I have required legal representation twice in my life in two separate will contests. Both times I sought assistance from Keith Staubus and Staubus/Randall. Their service, approach, and determination to obtain results exceeded the other attorneys in each case. Mr. Staubus has always come across as genuine while being direct. He gets the process done in a timely manner with results. I will certainly use him again when and if any new challenges arise.”

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