The personal representative of a New York estate is responsible for managing the estate or trust. The personal representative owes the beneficiaries a duty to act in a cautious and reasonable manner when making financial decisions on behalf of the estate and the beneficiaries. Many times the administration of an estate requires an understanding of investments and accounting principles, especially when the estate is large, and there are a lot of assets involved. The personal representative may seek the assistance of other professionals including New York probate attorneys, appraisers, Realtors and financial advisors to help locate assets and appraise them.
Accountings and Challenges
Each estate asset must be assigned a value. When it is sold, the gain or loss must be noted on an accounting schedule. The beneficiaries have the right to review the accountings. If a beneficiary feels that the personal representative/fiduciary is mismanaging the estate, has made bad business decisions or breached a fiduciary duty, the beneficiary can challenge the accounting and file a formal litigation accounting proceeding with the New York Surrogate’s Court asking the court to remove the fiduciary and appoint someone else.
Since accounting challenges are complex, the beneficiary will usually hire a New York estate attorney to help determine if there are sufficient grounds to challenge the accounting and to represent the beneficiary at the court hearing. The estate or fiduciary will also hire their own attorney to fight the accounting challenge. The fiduciary will need to present all accountings at the hearing and prove that there was no mismanagement. The court will listen to the testimony of the parties and any expert witnesses examine the evidence and make a determination.
So for example, just because you don’t like the buyer that purchased your deceased father’s business because he has a reputation for buying businesses at rock bottom prices, doesn’t mean that the fiduciary made a bad business decision. If the appraised value of the business was $5,000,000 and the business sold for $4,950,000, then the fiduciary most likely acted in a responsible and proper manner.
In order to have a fiduciary removed, you would have to establish that the business was worth much more and that the fiduciary made a bad business decision by selling the business for less than its true value. So if you had the business appraised and it was worth $9,000,000, then there may be sufficient grounds to show that the fiduciary mismanaged the sale.
NYC Trust and Estate Accounting Lawyer
Since accounting proceedings are very detailed examinations of financial records, and there may be a large number of documents involve, it is recommended that you hire an experienced and knowledgeable New York trust and estate litigation attorney to assist with the proceeding. Mike St. Pre, a top ranked probate attorney will be able to help you focus on the most important details of the matter so that it can be resolved quicker and more efficiently. He also represents estates, personal representatives, creditors and other interested parties to an estate. Do not hesitate and give us a call now. We are available around the clock.