The final account distributes all remaining assets of the estate. The estate account must show a zero balance on hand. The fiduciary must file an originally signed Tax Certificate with the final account. A final account will not be approved until six months have elapsed from the date of qualification.
The distributions to the beneficiaries must conform to the requirements of the will or the laws of descent and distribution, whichever are applicable. Thus, the fiduciary must address any disproportionate distributions made in prior accounts, if any, and the fiduciary must satisfy all specific bequests.
Absent specific authority given in the will, or the grant of fiduciary statutory powers of Virginia Code § 64.2-105 (formerly § 64.1-57) in the will, distributions due to a minor must be made to their duly qualified guardian. However, if the distribution is $25,000 or less, the fiduciary has discretion to distribute such assets to an adult, or to a trust company as custodian for the benefit of a minor, if the transfer is not prohibited by, or inconsistent with, provisions of the will and the fiduciary believes that the transfer will be in the best interest of the minor.
Distributions to an incapacitated adult must be made to their court appointed conservator or to the beneficiary’s agent under a power of attorney. A copy of the conservatorship order or power of attorney must be provided with the accounting to establish the authority of the conservator or agent to receive any such distribution.
Events outside the probate record occasionally affect distributions, such as corporate beneficiaries ceasing to exist or individual beneficiaries passing away prior to probate of the will. In these various circumstances, a simple statement of facts attached to the final account can greatly assist in the review of the account, saving both the auditor and the fiduciary time.
Since a final account needs to show a zero balance, most fiduciaries question how the final filing fee can be paid to the commissioner. The fiduciary should calculate the final account filing fee using the Commissioner’s Fee Schedule provided on this website. If you are uncertain about calculating the filing fee, call the commissioner’s office for further direction. Once determined, there are several ways to pay the fee:
- Prepay the filing fee and report the payment as a disbursement on the account. Please include “prepayment of final account” on the memo of your check.
- Advance the filing fee to your attorney’s escrow account. Your attorney can pay the fee from his account when the final account is filed.
- Advance the filing fee to your personal account. You may then pay the fee from your personal account when the final account is filed.
- Pay the filing fee from the estate account when you file and submit the zero bank statement once the check clears. Please include a statement in your cover letter that a copy of the bank statement will be forthcoming. Your account will not be approved until the statement is provided.