Acting as a fiduciary isn’t easy. A fiduciary owes many duties to the beneficiaries, and a breach of a duty can result in liability. This includes the duty to account. Sometimes an accounting is required by the governing instrument or by state statute, ordered by a court or prepared in connection with litigation. Other times, an accounting might be needed because a beneficiary requests it. A fiduciary may decide to produce an accounting to assist with the administration of the trust or estate, manage risk or be released from liability if the beneficiaries won’t sign a receipt, release and refunding agreement (or a version thereof) after the fiduciary’s term ends.
Whatever the reason, having an accounting is one of the best ways a fiduciary can protect itself from liability. An accounting also protects the beneficiary because it requires the fiduciary to disclose all of the activity in the trust or estate that the beneficiary can review and, if the beneficiary disagrees, can challenge.