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An estate can be closed in one of four fashions: (1) the mere release of funds by the Executor or Administrator to estate beneficiaries; (2) the release of estate distributions to estate beneficiaries after the execution of a Release and Refunding Bond upon which there is a waiver of any form of accounting; (3) distribution to estate beneficiaries after said estate beneficiaries execute a Refunding Bond and Release upon submission of an informal accounting; and (4) an Order obtained by a Court of competent jurisdiction after a Verified Complaint and Order to Show Cause are filed for approval of an Executor’s or Administrator’s account.
No, this can be waived by the beneficiaries. It is possible for beneficiaries of an estate to execute Refunding Bonds and Releases without requesting any accounting or information from the Executor or Administrator. In doing so, the beneficiaries of an estate are exhibiting, to a degree, blind faith. However, the execution and filing of said bonds effectively closes out the estate and discharges the Executor or Administrator from his/her position without further liability.
Although it is possible to resolve the closing of an estate without an accounting, the case law of the state clearly details its right to an accounting and the expectations of estate beneficiaries regarding the handling of an estate. Specifically, the courts of this state have described the duty of an Executor or Administrator as follows:
“It is elementary that the Executor is under a peremptory duty to account for the assets of the estate coming to his possession or knowledge; and if, through failure of the fiduciary duty, he is unable to do so, he is chargeable with their full value. It is a primary duty of one exercising such trust functions to gather in the assets of the estate; and while it is incumbent upon him, in the discharge of this duty, to use only such care, skill, diligence, and caution as a man of ordinary prudence would practice in like matters of his own, it is also held to the upmost good faith.” In re Brueck’s Estate, 124 N.J. Eq. 62, 63 (E&A 1938).
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