Problems with the Accounting in an Estate or Trust Case? A Forensic Accountant May Have the Answers

By Heather Deskins, CPA/ABV/CFF, CFE, CVA

We’ve all heard the saying, “Blood is thicker than water.” This phrase is used to imply that the bond between family (blood) is more important (thicker) than those formed between friends (water). But what happens when the family bond is broken because of mistrust in the handling of assets or income in an Estate or Trust? This can occur when a family member is named the executor/administrator of the estate or trustee of a trust, which their roles are to hold, manage and distribute assets for beneficiaries. When this role is filled by a beneficiary, the other beneficiaries can become suspicious of the handling of the Estate or Trust and disagree with how it has been financially managed.

Oftentimes, beneficiaries become skeptical of the inventory, receipts and distributions from the Estate or Trust and accuse the executor/administrator/trustee of diverting assets, receipts and/or distributions from the Estate or Trust for personal gain. These accusations can come at any time … a few months down the road to several years or even decades.

Record retention is essential to prove or disprove these accusations. A qualified forensic accountant, experienced with Estates and Trusts, will be able to review source documents and tax returns to compare with the accountings/financial reports filed with the Probate Court or given to beneficiaries to determine completeness and accuracy. A forensic accountant will be able to trace and identify discrepancies and quantify any misappropriations of receipts or distributions, if any.

If you have a client that is dealing with this issue, please feel free to call P.D. Eye Forensics to discuss the situation further.

Heather Deskins, CPA/ABV/CFF, CFE, CVA

Heather Deskins,
CPA/ABV/CFF, CFE, CVA

Managing Member
P.D. Eye Forensics, LLC