In the course of the administration of an estate, the Estate Trustee has the obligation to always have their accounts ready for review and to ultimately report (account) to beneficiaries for the steps taken, including costs, and legal and other professional fees. This accounting benefits from the availability of detailed records, and an Estate Trustee must keep this in mind.
If a beneficiary requests that an Estate Trustee pass their accounts and the Estate Trustee either neglects or outright refuses to do so, the beneficiary may by Application ask a Court to order them to do so. However, not all accounts must be passed in Court. It is necessary to have the estate accounts approved by the Court under several circumstances including for example where minors or incapable beneficiaries are beneficiaries, or where a beneficiary challenges the accounting of the estate by the Estate Trustee.
On occasion, the passing of accounts becomes complex and adverse and ends up before the Court. For the most part, this is not useful and wasteful of time and resources. Our Courts prefer that an Estate Trustee’s accounts be approved without their intervention and will make costs award against the party that refused or failed to cooperate. This is most easily achieved with fulsome accounts and prompt response to reasonable objections. The process is rule based and early advice is recommended. If an out of court solution leading to the desired result is available, we have the experience to find it. If litigation is required, we have the team to provide efficient and cost conscious representation. The passing of accounts process also extends with some modification to address accounts of Powers of Attorney, Guardians and Trustees.