Who and What Is the Commissioner of Accounts?
Robert E. Hawthorne, Jr. has served as the Commissioner of Accounts for Lunenburg County since 2000. The Commissioner of Accounts exercises oversight over fiduciaries of estates, trusts, guardianships, conservatorships, and foreclosures. This oversight typically takes the form of reviewing inventories of the estate’s property and auditing the executor’s or other fiduciary’s accounting of how he or she has dealt with this property. This oversight can also include addressing beneficiaries’ concerns and ensuring that creditors of the estate receive what is due to them.
Obtaining Further Guidance
The purpose of this website is to provide general guidance to fiduciaries. (“Fiduciary” is just the general term for executors, administrators, trustees, guardians, and conservators.) We hope that it will answer many of your questions. However, if you need additional guidance as to the particulars of the paperwork that you must file with this office, please do not hesitate to give us a call.
Understand, however, that we are not your attorneys. The Commissioner of Accounts is a position akin to that of a judge, and so we cannot provide legal advice to you. If you need legal guidance or if your situation is particularly complicated, we encourage you to contact the attorney or accountant of your choosing. Generally, attorney’s fees and accountant’s fees may be paid by the estate. However, if you hire an attorney or accountant to handle the paperwork that you must file with this office (as opposed to seeking advice on how to do it and still doing the paperwork yourself), these attorney’s fees or accountant’s fees may need to be deducted from any commission to which you would be entitled for your services as fiduciary.
Finally, we cannot stress highly enough the need to submit your filings in a timely manner. Failure to do so can result in late fees being assessed against you personally; in other words, these late fees will have to be paid out of your own pocket and not from estate funds. Failure to submit your filings in a timely manner can also result in the forfeiture of any commission that you have taken, even if you are acting under a will that expressly allows you to take a commission. In more extreme cases, you can also be required to appear before a judge to explain why you have not submitted the proper filings.
Although administering an estate might seem confusing at first, you will probably find that it really is not as intimidating as it seems once you actually begin filling out the paperwork. As with the rest of life, problems will only become worse if you put off dealing with them, and so we urge you to begin working on this paperwork well before the deadlines. You can obtain any forms either from my office, by following the links elsewhere on this website, or by going to http://courts.state.va.us/forms/circuit/fiduciary.html. If you experience any difficulty in downloading these forms or if you need guidance as to their proper completion, do not hesitate to give us a call!