What information and documentation do I need to provide to start an accounting?

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First thing would be a memo thumbnail sketch of the situation; name of the matter, with beginning date (a date of death? a date of appointment?) and ending date. Inventory & appraisal(s) if it’s a court matter or otherwise has I&As involved. Background court docs if it is or was a court matter can be useful. A copy of a trust (if it’s a trust matter (and names of co-trustees if there are co-trustees)) can help. List of beneficiaries, and beneficiary distributions (or specific distributions per a Will) made (if any have been made) with names can help too. Creditors’ claims paid is useful information. And if non-cash items have been distributed then document detailing agreed-upon distributions and distribution-values can be important.

Typically we need a list of all assets to be included in the accounting – bank accounts, investment accounts, real property (with “appropriate” valuations), tangible personal property (cars, jewelry, clothing, household furniture & furnishings, etc….) (again with “appropriate” valuations) (though for the last two (real property, “TPP”) “valuation to be determined” is ok too if that works for the purposes of the accounting), annuities, receivables, etc. etc.

We typically need all statements on all accounts (bank, investment, property management, life insurance, annuities,…) covering the accounting period – statements covering the beginning date, statements covering the ending date, and all in between. (though sometimes accounts generate quarterly statements only – we can look at what the client has and help guide them to what’s needed). Sometimes CD accounts do not generate statements but generate renewal notices upon renewal only – in that case bank printouts (signed by someone at the bank if that is needed/appropriate) with clear valuations can be important in lieu of statements.

Often if an investment account is involved the client can get (from the broker (Merrill, UBS, Wells Fargo Advisors, First Republic Securities, Ameritrade, etc..)) an official beginning-date (date of death for example) detail of the assets in the account with beginning-date itemized (and total) valuations.

We also need registers (handwritten, Quicken/QuickBooks, Excel, ..) for all accounts (unless an account is interest only and all “transactions” are reflected on the statements) – registers should detail deposits (date deposited, who from and what for) and disbursements (date written, who to, and what for (for taxes (property, and income, and Estate,..) – what type of tax, what year related to for example are important). If more than one property is involved then receipts and disbursements should clearly note property address. And if multi-unit buildings are involved then receipts and disbursements should further note unit/apt. number.

If any real property has been sold we need Seller’s Final Closing Statement.

A list of liabilities at the end of the accounting period can be important to add to an accounting – amounts owed for taxes, amounts owed for mortgages (by property), home equity lines of credit, amounts owed to a personal representative (for costs advanced), amounts owed to professionals (attorney, accountant, appraiser, ….) not yet paid, amounts owed to beneficiaries, etc….

That’s basically it, but once we receive materials we can guide a client on what might be missing, etc.

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