Trusts and estates often require services beyond preparing a tax return. Frequently, determining the specific procedures that need to be performed is the most difficult task. At Barnard Vogler & Co. we specialize in providing the additional services that may be required by a probate court, the beneficiaries of a trust or estate, or other interested parties. These services range from preparing an accounting of the assets to performing assurance services. Our team can help you determine the appropriate level of service by evaluating the interested party’s questions and concerns as well as the cost and benefit of each type of engagement.
Determining the Level of Service
Determining the level 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 services are 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. 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 can be substantial, and the interested party will end up with a report that provides them with the proper level of assurance.
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 a higher level of assurance with respect to the use of funds, BVCo. may audit the financial statements, but this is more in-depth and 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 more common with a consulting engagement. We utilize 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 elements within a financial statement. In the typical agreed-upon procedures engagement, our staff is directed by the court or interested party as to specific procedures to perform.