When Does an Executor Pass their Accounts?

April 16th, 2018 by Justin Winch

A passing of accounts is essentially an estate audit.  Much like the CRA can pour over your tax returns with a fine tooth comb, a beneficiary, and later a judge, can review your estate accounting. This is because an executor is required to account for his/her actions to the beneficiaries.

However, there is not always a requirement for a trustee to go through the formal process of passing the estate accounts. In many situations, where there is no concern over the actions of the trustee or the estate is small in nature, the trustee simply keeps his estate accounts and the beneficiaries informally approve them. In my experience, more than 85% cases never require a formal passing of accounts.

Yet, in some more complicated or contentious estates, a beneficiary can compel the estate trustee to pass the accounts by obtaining a court order. There are many reasons why a beneficiary may require an estate trustee to pass his or her accounts. For instance, if there is a lack of disclosure or communication from the estate trustee, if the beneficiary objects to certain transactions performed by the estate trustee or if the beneficiary objects to the amount of compensation claimed by the estate trustee. Often, a request for an order requiring an estate trustee to pass his or her accounts is sought along with other relief, such as a request for an order removing and replacing the estate trustee.

In some cases, the estate trustee may also apply voluntarily to pass his or her accounts. There are several reasons why the estate trustee may wish to pass his or her accounts. First, the passing, if approved, exonerates the trustee from any liability with respect to the accounts (fraud and other errors are exempt). Secondly, it allows the estate trustee to take his or her compensation when the consent of the beneficiaries cannot be obtained. If you are an executor struggling with beneficiaries who are uncooperative, voluntarily passing your estate accounts is something worth considering.

As a general matter of practice, the estate trustee should always maintain accurate and up-to-date accounts so that an accounting can be provided if requested or required.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our Estates Litigation group or call us directly at (416) 449-1400 to speak with an Estates Litigation Lawyer today.

“This article is intended to inform. Its content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon by readers as such. If you require legal assistance, please see a lawyer. Each case is unique and a lawyer with good training and sound judgment can provide you with advice tailored to your specific situation and needs.”

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