You have been named executor of the estate of your dear friend. With the assistance of your attorney, you have marshalled the decedent’s assets, filed the estate tax returns, survived an estate tax audit, paid the estate taxes, paid the decedent’s debts and claims, and made partial distributions. You now see an end in sight to your fiduciary duties. After years of administering the estate, you can hear the lyrics to that catchy tune, “Please Release Me, Let Me Go,” playing over and over again in your head. Your attorney has advised you that there is only one thing left to do to make those lyrics a reality and that is to account to the beneficiaries and be released. Sounds simple, but to really cross that finish line and never look back, an executor must either obtain a decree from the court after judicially accounting or choose to account informally by a receipt and release agreement, making sure the release is valid and enforceable.
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Reprinted with permission from the New York State Bar Association © 2023.