As an executor for a large estate, you hold great responsibilities toward the deceased person, those they owed money to, and the heirs. One of the most important ways you discharge these responsibilities is through maintaining transparency in all financial activities. How can you ensure the most transparency possible? Here are a few things any executor can do.
1. Learn About Fiduciary Duty
The idea of fiduciary duty is a lynchpin of serving as executor, but it's an unfamiliar concept to many. Therefore, the first step an executor may want to take is to meet with a professional with experience in financial fiduciary responsibility — such a public accountant — and learn more about what this term means in your case.
2.Use Accounting Software
Running a large estate is similar in many ways to running a business. You have assets to maintain and these may provide income for the estate. You'll have to file tax forms and possibly pay income tax on earnings. You might need to invest for better profits or upgrade assets. All this means that it makes sense for an executor to consider the use of accounting software to handle all transactions.
3. Let an Accountant Handle Books
Using outside professionals is a good way to demonstrate that you are striving for transparency, and professionalism. Not only does an independent accountant know how to keep books that follow proper accounting protocols, but they can offer suggestions to help you make proactive improvements and avoid trouble.
4. Maintain Separation
Separation of personal and estate activities is not only important but also mandated by probate court. It can be challenging for busy executors to keep their own lives and estate transactions all distinct, but failure to do so will result in problems for you and the heirs. Discuss steps such as maintaining a separate estate account and good reimbursement documentation with an experienced accountant.
5. Order an Independent Audit
Will the estate remain in existence for a significant time? If so, consider having it audited by a CPA on a regular schedule. Outside auditing is an investment for the estate, but it assures all stakeholders that you're doing what's right for the estate and not engaging in any questionable activities.
Where to Start
Could you use assistance in any of these areas? Then start by consulting with a qualified accountant in your state. With their guidance and expertise, you'll be the best fiduciary you can be — honoring the estate owner, their loved ones, and your own personal responsibility.Share