Trusts and estates often require services beyond the preparation of a tax return. In fact, the most difficult aspect of a trust or estate engagement often is determining exactly what procedures need to be performed. At Barnard Vogler & Co. we specialize in providing the additional services that may be required by a probate court, the beneficiaries of a trust/estate, or other interested parties. These services range from preparing an accounting of the assets to performing assurance services. BVCo.’s experts can help you determine the appropriate level of service by evaluating the interested party’s questions and concerns and the cost/benefit of each type of engagement.
Determining the Level of Service
Determining the type of service to perform can be complicated. It is common with trusts and estates for a court (or other interested party) to request an accounting of funds but to be unclear in exactly the type of service needed. Often, a court will request an audit, the highest and most expensive level of service, when less extensive services may be sufficient. In other cases, the court may need a combination of services. Sometimes, a judge will simply tell the CPA to find out whether the trust or estate’s records are correct. The experts at Barnard Vogler & Co. can be consulted by the court or other interested parties to assist in determining the appropriate level of service needed to meet the level of assurance desired.
Compilations and Audits
Estates and trusts often present an accountability of funds in the form of financial statements. The most common form of service for the financial statements of an estate/trust is a compilation, which provides a simple accounting of funds. When users want more assurance about the use of funds, BVCo. may audit the financial statements; however, this is expensive and not typically requested.
Reporting Directly to a Court of Law
Another common form of engagement for trusts and estates involves preparing a report to the court detailing procedures that were performed. This report may include backup documentation and schedules. This type of report correlates more to a consulting engagement, and the BVCo. experts will use professional judgment to determine the areas to examine or review based on the court’s request or order.
The CPAs at Barnard Vogler & Co. may be engaged to perform a compilation of estate/trust financial statements and apply agreed-upon procedures to specific accounts (such as agreeing cash disbursements back to cancelled checks and supporting documentation). While a CPA may not apply agreed-upon procedures to the financial statements taken as a whole, nothing precludes applying agreed-upon procedures to specified financial statement elements. In the typical agreed-upon procedures engagement, our staff is directed by the court or interested party as to specific procedures to perform.
Deciding on the Appropriate Service
At Barnard Vogler & Co., our priority is to address the questions and concerns of the interested party and determine the needs for the estate/trust engagement. Is the cost of an audit an appropriate use of funds, or might an agreed upon procedures engagement more readily identify any areas of concern? Our team can assist with making this evaluation prior to addressing the court and obtaining an order. The savings to the trust or estate may be substantial, and the interested party will end up with a report that provides them with the proper level of assurance.