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Estate Accountings

A fiduciary has no common law duty to report estate activities to the court. Most states, however, have comprehensive legislation requiring fiduciaries to account to the beneficiaries and the court.

There is no uniformity as to the proper form for an estate accounting. Most statutes describe the reporting requirements in general terms without specifying either the account's form or the scope of its contents. As a result, estate accountings differ significantly even within the same jurisdiction.

The Committee on National Fiduciary Accounting Standards was established in 1972 to study the fiduciary's general accounting obligations, to establish fiduciary accounting standards, and to make more uniform the principles applied in fiduciary accountings prepared for submission primarily to the courts. The Committee consisted of representatives from the American Bar Association, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the National Center for State Courts, the National College of Probate Judges, the Uniform Probate Code Project, the American Bankers Association, and the American College of Probate Counsel.

In establishing the national standards, the Committee determined that an accounting's objective should be to provide essential and useful information in a meaningful format. Although the account should be complete, it should not be so massive that interested parties would not read it, and should be sufficiently simple to enable the fiduciary to prepare it without unreasonable expense to the estate.

GEMAcct has been designed to comply with the National Fiduciary Accounting Standards. Although some jurisdictions require particular accounting techniques or formats, the formats established in the National Fiduciary Accounting Standards are either approved as the prescribed procedure or are at least one of the acceptable methods of fiduciary accounting in most jurisdictions.