In this article, we discuss the process of contesting and objecting to an estate accounting in Illinois and answer the following questions:
An Estate Accounting is a document that may list inventory, debts, assets, etc of an estate. In the overall probate process, an estate accounting often goes through multiple interactions. Estate accountings can also be requested throughout the lifetime of an estate, although the process can be time-consuming and costly. Informal accountings can be generated by the fiduciary at the requests of interested parties or formal estate accountings can be petitioned through the court. For more information on estate accountings in Illinois check out our article: Illinois Estate Accounting Explained.
Outside of the normal estate accountings that occur during the probate process, parties privy to an estate, such as beneficiaries, debt collectors, heirs, legatees, or the fiduciary herself, may seek a formal estate accounting from the fiduciary responsible for the estate. Reasons for requesting an estate accounting include:
Conversely, if all appropriate parties give consent in writing to the court, preparation and presentation of an estate accounting may be excused.
The Illinois Probate Act does not list a specific set of parties or individuals who have a legal right to object to an estate accounting. However, the Illinois courts have at least implied that those entitled to notice regarding the estate are also entitled to object. This would suggest that, at the very least, beneficiaries and debt collectors can object to estate accountings. To be clear, when discussing objecting to an estate accounting, it does not mean that one party is saying they don’t want an estate accounting to take place, but rather they are objecting to the final result of the estate accounting in order to have it reviewed, changed, etc.
Although all parties entitled to notice could potentially object to an estate accounting, the Illinois Probate act reads that when an estate trustee receives notice of an estate accounting request (an estate accounting occurs for some other reason) he or she does not have to provide a notice to the trust beneficiaries. This indicates that there may be instances when a trust beneficiary does not have standing to object to an estate accounting. However, this is not the case in Cook County Illinois, where if the trustee is the representative then all beneficiaries must be given notice and have standing to object to the estate accounting.
A party with standing to object must file a pleading with the court indicating something akin to “Objection to Fiduciary’s Accounting” and indicate the specific items in question.
The objection must be filed on or before the hearing date listed on the notice. If no objection is filed by the hearing date and final report, then the accounting report is considered binding by all who received notice. For those who did not receive a direct notice (usually creditors who could not be reached despite good faith efforts) the normal rules of Illinois probate apply. Furthermore, objections can be filed within 30 days of the final estate accounting approval in certain situations. Suspected fraud, accident or mistake will also open up an estate accounting to objections after the final approval has been entered.
If you have questions about Illinois Probate, Estate Accounting, or anything else related to Estate Planning, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 630-324-6666!
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