ESTATES AND TRUSTS CREATION OF AN ESTATE PROBATE PROCEEDINGS

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1 A P P E N D I X B ESTATES AND TRUSTS Accountants frequently refer to estate and trust accounting as fiduciary accounting because estate and trust managers operate in a good-faith custodial or stewardship relationship with beneficiaries of the estate or trust property. A fiduciary is a person who is held in particular confidence by other people. Fiduciaries may be executors, trustees, administrators, and guardians, depending on the nature of their duties and the demands of custom. In legal terms, a fiduciary is an individual or an entity authorized to take possession of the property of others. Upon taking possession of estate or trust property, the fiduciary (administrator of an estate or trustee of a trust, for example) has an obligation to administer it in the best interest of all beneficiaries. Although similar practices are used in accounting for estates and trusts, there are a number of differences between the two types of entities. These include the manner in which the entities are created, the objectives of their activities, and the time spans of their existence. This appendix discusses these differences and reviews and illustrates accounting practices for estates and trusts. CREATION OF AN ESTATE An estate comes into existence at the death of an individual. If the deceased person (decedent) had a valid will in force at the time of death, he or she is said to have died testate. 1 In the absence of a valid will, the decedent is said to have died intestate. The estate consists of the property of the decedent at the time of death. Ordinarily, a probate court appoints a personal representative of the decedent to take control of the decedent s property, but some flexibility is provided if a valid will is in force at the time of death. In this case, the personal representative may leave real or tangible personal property under the control of the person presumably entitled to it under the terms of the will. PROBATE PROCEEDINGS The personal representative of the deceased (or other interested party) files a petition with the appropriate probate court requesting that an existing will be probated, that is, for the will to be validated. The hearing of the probate court to establish validity is called a testacy proceeding because it determines whether the deceased died testate or intestate. Under the Uniform Probate Code [ (30)], the term personal representative includes both executor and administrator, as well as other designations for persons who perform the same functions. 1 People with sizable estates usually have lawyers draw up their wills. The lawyer can provide for the eventual validation of the will and also help with estate planning so that property is distributed according to the client s wishes and taxes are minimized.

2 Confirmation A confirmation by a probate court that a will is valid means that the decedent died testate. Ordinarily, this leads to appointment of the personal representative named in the will as executor of the will. It also leads to the presumption that estate property will be distributed in accordance with the provisions of the will, in the absence of extenuating circumstances. A person dies intestate when he or she dies without leaving a will. Failure of the probate court to validate a will submitted for probate also means that the decedent died intestate. In either case, the court appoints an administrator to take control of the estate and supervise the distribution of estate assets in accordance with applicable state laws. Uniform Probate Code The state laws governing probate and distribution of estate property vary considerably and do not provide a uniform basis for classifying the legal and accounting characteristics of estates. Therefore, this appendix bases its discussion and illustrations on the 1974 edition of the Uniform Probate Code, which was approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. The Uniform Probate Code has been approved by the American Bar Association, even though most states have not adopted it. ADMINISTRATION OF THE ESTATE The personal representative (executor or administrator) of the estate is a fiduciary who is expected to observe the standards of care applicable to trustees. Appointment by a probate court gives the executor authority to carry out the written instructions of the decedent, including the settlement and distribution of the estate. The executor is expected to perform this duty as expeditiously and efficiently as possible. Within 30 days after appointment, the personal representative (executor or administrator) must inform the heirs and devisees of his or her appointment and provide selected information about certain other matters. Heirs are the persons entitled to the property of the decedent under the statutes of intestate succession. Intestate succession is the order in which estate property is distributed to the surviving spouse, parents, children, and so on, if any estate property is not effectively distributed by will. Devisees are those persons designated in a will to receive a devise (a testamentary disposition of real or personal property). Under the Uniform Probate Code, to devise means to dispose of real or personal property by will. A specific devise is the gift of an object, and a general devise is a gift of money. Intestate Succession Under the Uniform Probate Code, as amended, the entire estate of a person who dies intestate passes to the spouse if (1) the decedent has no living descendants or (2) all surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse. If there are descendants from a prior marriage or relationship, the surviving spouse receives the first $100,000 (the amount varies by state) and one-half of the remaining intestate estate. The remaining part of the estate not passing to the spouse (or the entire estate if there is no surviving spouse) passes to the descendants as directed in the state code. Inventory of Estate Property The executor or administrator of a will is required to prepare and file an inventory of property owned by the deceased within three months of appointment. This inventory must list the property in reasonable detail and show the fair market value on the date of death for each item of property. Any encumbrance on the property (such as a lien or other claim) must also be disclosed for each item. This inventory is filed with the probate court, and additional copies must be provided to interested persons on request. If appraisers are employed to assist in valuing the property, their names and addresses must accompany the property inventory. Subsequent discovery of property omitted from the inventory, or errors in valuing certain items, are corrected by preparing and filing a new or supplementary inventory of the estate property. Personal items of limited value are usually excluded from the inventory. B-2 APPENDIX B

3 Exempt Property and Allowances The Uniform Probate Code entitles the surviving spouse to a homestead allowance that is exempt from, and has priority over, all claims against the estate. The amount of the allowance varies, but in some states it is $15,000. In the absence of a surviving spouse, the minor children would share the allowance equally. The surviving spouse also has an entitlement of up to $10,000 (varies by state) in household furniture, automobiles, and personal effects from the estate, depending on whether or not the property has been used to secure a loan. In the absence of a surviving spouse, the minor children share this property jointly. The surviving spouse and minor children who were dependent on the deceased are also entitled to a reasonable family allowance to be paid out of the estate property during the period in which the estate is being administered. This family allowance is exempt from and has priority over all claims except the homestead allowance. Claims Against the Estate Under the Uniform Probate Code, the personal representative publishes a notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the county for three consecutive weeks. The purpose is to announce his or her appointment and to notify creditors to present their claims within four months of the date of first publication of the notice. Claims against the estate that arose before death and were not presented within four months (or three years, if the required notice to creditors was not published) are barred forever against the estate, the personal representative, the heirs, and the devisees [Uniform Probate Code, ]. All claims against the decedent s estate that arose after death are barred as claims against the estate, the personal representative, the heirs, and the devisees unless presented as: 1. A claim based on a contract with the personal representative within four months after performance is due and discharged 2. Any other claim within four months after it arises CLASSIFICATION OF CLAIMS When estate assets are insufficient to pay all claims in full, payments are made as follows [Uniform Probate Code, 3-805]: 1. Costs and expenses of administration of the estate 2. Reasonable funeral expenses and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last illness of the decedent 3. Debts and taxes with preference under federal or state law 4. All other claims No preference is given for payment within a given class of claims. SECURED CLAIMS Payment of secured claims against the estate depends on the amount allowed if the creditor surrenders his or her security. However, if the assets of the estate are encumbered by mortgage, pledge, lien, or other security interest, the personal representative may pay the encumbrance if it appears to be in the best interests of the estate [Uniform Probate Code, 3-814]. ACCOUNTING FOR THE ESTATE The executor (personal representative) records the inventory of estate property in a self-balancing set of accounts that show 1. The property for which responsibility has been assumed 2. The manner in which that responsibility is subsequently discharged The executor does not accept responsibility for obligations of the decedent (testator), so the liabilities of the estate are not recorded until paid. Estate Principal and Income The focus of fiduciary accounting lies in distinguishing between principal and income. That focus applies to accounting for both estates and trusts. Estates frequently realize income from various Estates and Trusts B-3

4 investments between the time that the property inventory is filed by the executor and the time the estate is fully administered. A primary reason for dividing estate principal and income is that the beneficiaries are likely to be different. For example, some devises specified in the will are distributed to the devisees from estate principal, but the income may accrue to the residual beneficiaries of the estate. Residual beneficiaries are those entitled to the remainder of the estate after all other rightful claims on the estate have been satisfied. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws approved a Revised Uniform Principal and Income Act in 1978 to provide guidance in distinguishing between estate principal and income. That act provides that expenses incurred in settling a decedent s estate be charged against the principal of the estate. These expenses include debts, funeral expenses, estate taxes, interest and penalties, family allowances, attorney s fees, personal representative s fees, and court costs [Uniform Probate Code, 5]. Alternatively, income (less expenses) earned after death on assets included in the decedent s estate is distributed to the specific devisee to whom the property was devised. Any remaining income that accrues during the period of estate administration is distributed to the devisees in proportion to their interests in the undivided (residual) assets of the estate. ESTATE INCOME, GAINS, AND LOSSES In accounting for the decedent s estate, the receipts due but unpaid at the date of death are a part of the estate principal. These include items such as interest, dividends, rents, royalties, and annuities due at the time of death. After death, earnings from income-producing property are estate income, unless the will specifically provides otherwise. That is, amounts earned for the items listed would be classified as income, rather than principal, if they came due during the period of estate administration. In accounting for interest income on bond investments included in the estate inventory, no provision is made for amortization of bond issue premiums and discounts. This is because the bonds (and other securities) are included in the estate inventory at fair market value, and any gains or losses on disposal are adjustments of estate principal. Depreciation is a related matter that requires interpretation under the Uniform Principal and Income Act [Uniform Probate Code, 13a(2) and c(3)]. The act provides that a reasonable allowance for deprecation be made on depreciable property of the estate, except that no depreciation is to be made on real property used by a beneficiary as a residence or on personal property held by a trustee who is not then making a depreciation allowance. ILLUSTRATION OF ESTATE ACCOUNTING On April 1, 2006, Harry Olds entered the hospital with a terminal illness. He died May 1, 2006, at the age of 70. Laura Hunt, Harry s only daughter, was appointed executor of the estate by the probate court, which also confirmed that Harry had died testate. The will provided specific devises at estimated values to be awarded as follows: Summer home to his daughter, Laura Hunt $45, Datsun 240Z to his grandson, Gary Hunt 8, shares of FFF stock to his friend, Michael Wallace 5,000 All other personal effects to Harry s widow, Gloria Olds The following general devises of cash were also provided: Laura Hunt, in lieu of fees as executor $19,000 Sara Tyson, Harry s housekeeper 6,000 First Methodist Church 5,000 Humane Society 10,000 Gloria Olds is to receive the income in excess of expenses during the administration of the estate. The residue of the estate is to be placed in trust, with the income used to support Harry s widow during her lifetime. Upon her mother s death, Laura gets the remainder of the estate. Laura informed the heirs and devisees of her appointment as executor of Harry s estate on May 19, 2006, and at the same time, placed the required notice to creditors in the newspaper. On June 15, 2006, she filed the estate inventory that appears in Exhibit B-1 with the probate court. B-4 APPENDIX B

5 HARRY OLDS, TESTATOR INVENTORY OF ESTATE ASSETS AS OF THE DATE OF DEATH ON MAY 1, 2006 Description of Property Fair Value Cash in Commercial National Bank $ 30,000 Cash in savings account at First National Bank 93,000 Certificate of deposit, 8%, 18 months, due August 1 (includes $10,000 accrued interest) 110,000 Certificate of deposit, 9%, one year, due July 1 (includes $7,500 interest) 107,500 Note receivable plus $1,500 accrued interest from George Stein, 10%, due June 1 21,500 Rocky Mountain Power common stock, 1,000 shares 40,000 Southern Natural Gas common stock, 2,000 shares 30,000 Danville City 9%, $50,000 par municipal bonds 58,000 Interest on Danville City bonds, due June 1 1,875 Dividends receivable utility stocks 1,500 Summer home 45,000 FFF common stock, 200 shares 5, Datsun 240Z 8,000 Personal effects* $551,375 *The probate court permitted Laura to exclude Harry s personal effects other than specific devises from the inventory. Submitted by Laura Hunt, executor on June 15, Exhibit B-1 Inventory of Estate Assets Laura subsequently prepared the following entries to record transactions and events during the period of estate administration. 2 May 19, 2006 Memorandum: Placed a notice in the Montgomery County News Messenger that creditors of the estate of Harry Olds should present their claims against the estate within four months. June 15, 2006 Recorded the inventory of estate assets as of May 1, 2006: Cash principal (+A) 30,000 Savings account (+A) 93,000 Certificate of deposit, due August 1, 2006 (+A) 100,000 Certificate of deposit, due July 1, 2006 (+A) 100,000 Note receivable George Stein (+A) 20,000 Rocky Mountain Power common stock (+A) 40,000 Southern Natural Gas common stock (+A) 30,000 FFF Company common stock (+A) 5,000 Danville municipal bonds (+A) 58,000 Summer home (+A) 45, Datsun 240Z (+A) 8,000 Interest receivable on CDs (+A) 17,500 Interest receivable George Stein (+A) 1,500 Interest receivable municipal bonds (+A) 1,875 Dividends receivable common stock (+A) 1,500 Estate principal (+SE) 551,375 June 16, 2006 Cashed dividend checks received May 5 on utility stock: Cash principal (+A) 1,500 Dividends receivable common stock ( A) 1,500 2 This appendix treats the estate principal as a stockholders equity type account, to be consistent with other topics in the text. Estates and Trusts B-5

6 June 18, 2006 Collected interest of $2,250 on Danville City bonds. Interest of $375 was earned after the date of death: Cash principal (+A) 1,875 Cash income (+A) 375 Interest receivable municipal bonds ( A) 1,875 Estate income (R, +SE) 375 June 23, 2006 Funeral expenses of $4,500 were paid: Funeral expenses (E, SE) 4,500 Cash principal ( A) 4,500 June 24, 2006 Collected the $20,000 George Stein note and $1,650 interest. Interest of $150 was earned after the date of death: Cash principal (+A) 21,500 Cash income (+A) 150 Note receivable George Stein ( A) 20,000 Interest receivable George Stein ( A) 1,500 Estate income (R, +SE) 150 June 25, 2006 Discovered and cashed a certificate of deposit that matured on April 15 and was excluded from the estate inventory. The proceeds were $10,800: Cash principal (+A) 10,800 Assets subsequently discovered ( A) 10,800 June 28, 2006 Paid hospital and medical bills in excess of amounts paid by Medicare and private health insurance policies: Hospital and medical expenses (E, SE) 19,000 Cash principal ( A) 19,000 July 1, 2006 Cashed the certificate of deposit that was due on July 1: Cash principal (+A) 107,500 Cash income (+A) 1,500 Certificate of deposit ( A) 100,000 Interest receivable on CD ( A) 7,500 Estate income (R, +SE) 1,500 July 12, 2006 Paid cash to general devisees as provided in the will: Devise Laura Hunt (E, SE) 19,000 Devise Sara Tyson (E, SE) 6,000 Devise First Methodist Church (E, SE) 5,000 Devise Humane Society (E, SE) 10,000 Cash principal ( A) 40,000 August 1, 2006 Recorded interest from savings account for the quarter ending July 31: Cash income (+A) 1,395 Estate income (R, +SE) 1,395 August 1, 2006 Cashed in the certificate of deposit due August 1: Cash principal (+A) 110,000 Cash income (+A) 2,000 Certificate of deposit ( A) 100,000 Interest receivable on CD ( A) 10,000 Estate income (R, +SE) 2,000 August 5, 2006 Received dividend checks on utilities stock: Cash income (+A) 1,500 Estate income (R, +SE) 1,500 B-6 APPENDIX B

7 August 15, 2006 Paid a $500 mechanics bill on the Datsun 240Z that was incurred on April 10, 2006, and submitted for payment on August 10: Debts of decedent paid (E, SE) 500 Cash principal ( A) 500 August 15, 2006 Delivered specific devises as provided in the will. Personal effects not included in the estate inventory were left with the widow, Gloria Olds: Devise summer home to Laura Hunt (E, SE) 45,000 Devise 1973 Datsun 240Z to Gary Hunt (E, SE) 8,000 Devise FFF stock to Michael Wallace (E, SE) 5,000 Summer home ( A) 45, Datsun 240A ( A) 8,000 FFF Company common stock ( A) 5,000 August 28, 2006 Payment of attorney fees and court costs: Attorney fees paid (E, SE) 4,500 Court costs paid (E, SE) 500 Cash principal ( A) 5,000 August 31, 2006 Distribution of estate income to Gloria Olds: Distribution to Gloria Olds (E, SE) 6,920 Cash income ( A) 6,920 Closing Entries Entries to close the nominal accounts to estate income and estate principal on August 31 are as follows: Estate principal ( SE) 127,000 Funeral expenses paid ( E, +SE) 4,500 Hospital and medical expenses paid ( E, +SE) 19,000 Devise Laura Hunt ( E, +SE) 64,000 Devise Sara Tyson ( E, +SE) 6,000 Devise First Methodist Church ( E, +SE) 5,000 Devise Humane Society ( E, +SE) 10,000 Debts of decedent paid ( E, +SE) 500 Devise to Gary Hunt ( E, +SE) 8,000 Devise to Michael Wallace ( E, +SE) 5,000 Attorney fees paid ( E, +SE) 4,500 Court costs paid ( E, +SE) 500 Estate income ( R, SE) 6,920 Distribution to Gloria Olds ( E, +SE) 6,920 Assets subsequently discovered (+A) 10,800 Estate principal (+SE) 10,800 After these closing entries are made, the remaining account balances are as follows: Cash principal $214,175 Savings account 93,000 Rocky Mountain Power common stock 40,000 Southern Natural Gas common stock 30,000 Danville municipal bonds 58,000 Estate principal $435,175 August 31, 2006 Laura Hunt transfers estate property to Ed Jones, trustee for Gloria Olds, in accordance with the income trust established by Harry Olds s will: Estate principal ( SE) 435,175 Cash principal ( A) 214,175 Savings account ( A) 93,000 Rocky Mountain Power common stock ( A) 40,000 Southern Natural Gas common stock ( A) 30,000 Danville municipal bonds ( A) 58,000 Estates and Trusts B-7

8 Charge-Discharge Statement The charge-discharge statement is a document prepared by the personal representative (executor or administrator) to show accountability for estate property received and maintained or disbursed in accordance with the will (or the probate court in intestate cases). A charge-discharge statement shows progress in the administration of the estate and termination of responsibility when the will has been fully administered. Exhibit B-2 shows a final charge-discharge statement by Laura Hunt for her father s estate. The statement consists of two major parts: one for estate principal and one for estate income. The extent of detail is determined by the complexity of the estate, the number of devises, and instructions from the probate court. Income Taxes on Estate Income Income on resources held by the estate while it is being settled is taxable, even though the inheritance may not be taxable to the beneficiary. The tax may be paid by the estate or by the beneficiary if estate property has already been distributed to the beneficiary. Estates and trusts file federal ESTATE OF HARRY OLDS CHARGE-DISCHARGE STATEMENT FOR THE PERIOD OF ESTATE ADMINISTRATION MAY 1 TO AUGUST 31, 2006 Estate Principal I charge myself for: Assets included in estate inventory $551,375 Assets discovered after inventory 10,800 Total estate principal charge $562,175 I credit myself for: Funeral expenses paid $ 4,500 Hospital and medical expenses paid 19,000 Mechanic s bill paid 500 Attorney fees and court costs 5,000 $ 29,000 Devises paid in cash to: Laura Hunt $ 19,000 Sara Tyson 6,000 First Methodist Church 5,000 Humane Society 10,000 40,000 Devises distributed in kind to: Laura Hunt (summer home) $ 45,000 Gary Hunt (Datsun 240Z) 8,000 Michael Wallace (FFF stock) 5,000 58,000 Transferred to Ed Jones, trustee for Gloria Olds: Cash principal $214,175 Savings account 93,000 Rocky Mountain Power Company stock 40,000 Southern Natural Gas Company stock 30,000 Danville municipal bonds 58, ,175 Total estate principal discharge $562,175 Estate Income I charge myself for: Estate income received during estate administration $ 6,920 I credit myself for: Payment of estate income to Gloria Olds as directed by the will $ 6,920 Respectfully submitted: Laura Hunt, Estate Executor, August 31, Exhibit B-2 Charge-Discharge Statement B-8 APPENDIX B

9 income tax returns on Form 1041, U.S. Fiduciary Income Tax Return. The beneficiary s share of income is reported on Schedule K-1 of Form For tax purposes, the beneficiary treats each item of income earned on estate property in the same way that it is treated by the estate. For example, if interest is earned on bonds held by the estate, the beneficiary classifies the income as interest. If the estate receives dividends from stock holdings, the beneficiary classifies the income as dividends. The fiduciary of the estate must provide this information to the beneficiary on Schedule K-1. ACCOUNTING FOR TRUSTS The will of Harry Olds resulted in the creation of an income trust for Gloria Olds. A trust created pursuant to a will is referred to as a testamentary trust. The fiduciary that administers a trust is the trustee. A trustee may be a business entity or a natural person. As in the case of estates, guidance in accounting for trusts comes from state laws, the Uniform Trusts Act, the Uniform Probate Code, and the Revised Uniform Principal and Income Act. The entry made by Ed Jones, the trustee, to open the books for the creation of the Gloria Olds Trust is as follows: Cash (+A) 214,175 Savings account (+A) 93,000 Rocky Mountain Power common stock (+A) 40,000 Southern Natural Gas common stock (+A) 30,000 Danville municipal bonds (+A) 58,000 Trust fund principal (+SE) 435,175 To record receipt of property transferred from Laura Hunt, executor. A primary concern in accounting for trust entities is distinguishing between principal and income. This is especially true of income trusts such as the one created for Gloria Olds because the principal amount of the trust is to be maintained intact to provide income for Mrs. Olds s care until her death. Separate trust fund principal and trust fund income accounts are used to separate principal and income balances for accounting purposes. The use of separate principal and income cash accounts, however, is of limited value, and the practice is usually not necessary. SUMMARY When a person dies without a valid will, he or she dies intestate. The deceased person s estate is distributed under the statutes of intestate succession. When the decedent has a valid will in force, he or she dies testate. The probate court normally names the personal representative named in the will as executor of the estate. The executor is a fiduciary charged with carrying out the provisions of the will, including the settlement and distribution of the estate. The executor records an inventory of the estate in a self-balancing set of accounts; however, obligations of the decedent are not recorded until paid. The executor must distinguish estate principal and income in accounting for the estate. Guidance for distinguishing estate principal and estate income is found in the Uniform Principal and Income Act. The executor prepares a charge-discharge statement to show accountability for estate property and progress in the administration of the estate. A final charge-discharge statement is prepared when the estate has been fully administered. SELECTED READINGS BERNSTEIN, PHYLLIS, J., STEPHEN J. ROJAS, and MURRAY B. SCHWARTZBERG. A Primer on Trusts. Journal of Accountancy (May 1993), pp HIRA, LABH S. Revocable Trusts: Appealing, but Beware. Journal of Accountancy (October 1991), pp WILSON, DOUGLAS D. Providing Guidance to Executors and Trustees. Journal of Accountancy 184, No. 4 (October 1997), pp Estates and Trusts B-9

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