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What do you need to include in a final estate accounting?

With any Colorado estate that requires probate court review, a final accounting summarizes receipts and payments during the estate administration process and remaining assets to disburse to heirs. The Colorado Judicial Branch provides standard forms that can help with organization.

What the state judiciary does not provide is tailored legal advice, however. And once named personal representative in a will, it is likely you will encounter various legal issues.


The road to a final accounting

So, where do you start.

First, don’t rush into the process while still under significant emotional stress. You should start the process within six months after a loved one’s death though. While still working with a funeral home, request multiple copies of the death certificate, you will need these for banks and insurance companies.

Then, meet with an attorney who represents personal representatives and other fiduciaries is one way to better understand your role. One common mistake is trying to do everything yourself and not looping in help from a professional.

The original will and trust documents will provide a guide and you should closely review these documents. Compile expenses related to the death such as final medical bills that will be necessary for the final tax return.

Locating all assets and squaring away remaining debts

This is generally where the bulk of the work occurs and you may begin to feel like a detective. It’s also where you discover just how organized your loved one was.

Some starting places to look for assets include:

  • Bank account and investment statements
  • Retirement accounts (Were any survivor benefits tied to a pension? How much might have been left in a 409(K)?)
  • Mortgage or car loan statements
  • Life insurance or annuity policies
  • Past tax returns
  • The run-of-the-mill bills – credit cards, cable, utilities, property insurance and/or taxes.

Without close attention to detail, it is easy to miss an account or leave a bill unpaid. While the process takes a lot of work, by the time you get to the final tax return and estate accounting you should already have all the information you need.

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