Legal Memorandum: Estate's Accounting in NY

Issue: Under the laws of New York, under what circumstances may a court require an accounting of an estate?

Area of Law: Estate Planning & Probate
Keywords: Accounting of an estate; Court ordered
Jurisdiction: New York
Cited Cases: 480 N.Y.S.2d 81
Cited Statutes: N.Y. Surr. Ct. Proc. Act §§ 2205, 2206
Date: 02/01/2001

A court may order an accounting on its own initiative or on the petition of a person interested in the estate when it appears that an accounting would be "for the best interests of the estate."  N.Y. Surr. Ct. Proc. Act § 2205 (McKinney 1967 & Supp. 1996).  Section 2205 should be liberally construed toward granting the compulsory accounting.  Id. § 2205 note (practice commentary).  A compulsory accounting is typically called for in a case in which the beneficiaries of the estate suspect some wrongdoing by the fiduciary or in which the fiduciary has unduly delayed the completion of the estate.  Id. § 2205 (supplementary practice commentary). 

A compulsory accounting is justified when a fiduciary has long delayed distribution to a party entitled to estate assets.  In re Will of Usdan 125 Misc. 2d 494, 480 N.Y.S.2d  81, 82 (Surr. Ct. 1984).  N.Y. Surr. Ct. Proc. Act § 2205 (McKinney 1996) (supplementary practice commentary) (citing Matter of Rogers, N.Y.L.J., Dec. 27, 1989 at 38, col. 1).

A fiduciary may attempt to show good cause for his failure or may petition for a voluntary accounting.  N.Y. Surr. Ct. Proc. Act § 2206.  In some cases a petition for a voluntary accounting might be a request for a more limited accounting, see, e.g., Usdan, 125 Misc. 2d 494, 480 N.Y.S.2d 81.


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