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Can the money in a persons estate be spent before the accounting has all been finalized?

San Francisco, CA |

also can they change the dates? Is it legal for the amounts in the estates accounting to be changed too? Thnx~

Attorney Answers 3


  1. I assume you are speaking about a Probate estate and not a trust estate.

    It is common for preliminary accountings to be revised after more becomes known about the assets of a decedent. Final accounts often vary from the preliminary accounting.

    Only the duly-appointed personal representative, commonly called the executor, can spent money, and only upon pre-approval by the court.

    I don't know what you mean by "changing the dates." The date of death is fixed by the death certificate. It is possible that a mistake was made in an early filing that was corrected in a later filing, but I'm not sure what you are saying here.

    Mr. Huddleston is an Ohio-Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law, with offices in Columbus and Dayton, serving client families throughout Ohio. He may be contacted directly by phone toll-free at 888.488.7878 or by email CLH@HUDDLAW.COM. Mr. Huddleston responds to Avvo questions as a public service to help educate and provide general guidance to questioners, but his responses are not legal advice and do not create an attorney-client relationship.


  2. In Florida the answer would be different than the Ohio answer to your California question.
    In Florida the personal respresentative can pay bill, expenses, and fees without court order
    but has to provide a final accounting.
    The heirs can object to the final accounting and have to approve and accept their final distribution and agree to release the PR from further duty before the estate can be closed.
    If the estate is in Calif-hope you get the California version.

    The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.


  3. As the two attorneys have stated, the accounting can and does typically change depending on the nature of the assets and how and when information to prepare the accounting is acquired. As for spending the funds, the executor is entitled to use the funds to pay for the expenses of the estate and typically can do this without court order. Sometimes, with court order, the funds can be spent to maintain the dependent family members (spouse, minor children), but generally speaking there should be no distribution of the assets to beneficiaries or heirs until the probate court grants on order of distribution. If you believe something is wrong, you can take steps to challenge the executor's actions before the Final Accounting, and you can even challenge the Final Accounting before distribution, but you'll probably need legal assistance. If you don't file the right motion or pleadings, the court won't really listen to you, but will give you the same advice you receive here "you need the assistance of legal counsel if you believe you have a proper claim"

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