Friday, November 03, 2006

PA SC OC Rls Cte Proposes Revised Model Fiduciary Accounts

Since 1975, the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel has been involved in the national movement to standardize forms of accountings submitted to a court regarding administration of a fiduciary fund by agents, property guardians, administrators & executors, or trustees. That ongoing project is described in detail by ACTEC here. The initial recommended "National Fiduciary Accounting Standards and Model Account Formats" (May 1984 Version) was most recently updated on October 31, 1998. These original National Fiduciary Accounting Standards were developed by a Committee that was a joint project of:

On October 31, 2006, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Orphans' Court Procedural Rules Committee issued a "Publication Notice", found here, by its Chair, Mary Jane Barrett, Esq. The four-page notice indicated as follows:
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court Procedural Rules Committee is publishing for comment a proposed amendment to Pa. O.C. Rule 6.1 and revised Model Accounts which may be viewed [here].

Rule 6.1(a) has been expanded to include distributions as a category for completeness. Rule 6.1(b) has been restated to clarify the need for separate schedules within the account as illustrated in the Model Accounts. Consistent with the objective to standardize practice statewide, present Rule 6.1(e) permitting local rules regarding forms of account is stricken and the Rule is revised to require use of forms of Account consistent with the model forms except upon special order of Court.

If approved, the following Model Accounts would appear in an Appendix to the Rules:

(1) Revised Model Estate Account [found here];
(2) Revised Model Trust Account [found here]; and

(3) New Model Charitable Remainder Unitrust Account [found here].

The Model Estate Account and Model Trust Account currently approved under Pa. O.C. Rule 6.1(g) have been modified to correct certain mathematical and formatting errors and reflect other changes unique to practice in Pennsylvania while remaining consistent with the model accounts recommended for use by the Committee on National Fiduciary Standards. The Model Charitable Remainder Unitrust Account is new and incorporates additional schedules which permit the Orphans’ Court and the parties to whom the unitrust account is furnished to verify that unitrust payments have been accurately computed and distributed. The Committee proposes to replace the present Model Estate and Trust Accounts and to add the Model Charitable Remainder Unitrust Account in the format attached to this Recommendation and to include such models in a single appendix to the Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court Procedural Rules as described more fully below.

These proposed Orphans’ Court Model Accounts are part of an ongoing forms project intended to promote uniformity and to standardize the content of pleadings and forms in use across the state. The Uniform Fiduciary Accounting Principles and accompanying commentaries and illustrations recommended by the Committee on National Fiduciary Standards are retained and relocated to the appendix in which the Model Accounts will also be found following the Pa. O.C. Rules.

The PA SC OC Rules Committee, including its current membership, is described here. The Committee was established under Article V, § 10(c) of the 1968 Pennsylvania Constitution and 42 Pa. C.S., § 1772. It responds to developments in orphans' court procedure and reviews current rules governing statewide practice and procedure in the orphans' court, recommending new rules as necessary.

This Committee is active recently, having just issued new uniform Orphans' Court Forms for practice before the Registers of Wills and the Clerks of the Orphans' Court Divisions in the Commonwealth, which I described in my prior posting here.

The Committee likely will remain busy. I note that, in a 2003 report by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts found here, additional pending projects of the PA OC Rules Committee were identified:
  • Submission of a recommendation enabling judicial districts, if they so choose, to implement the electronic filing of orphans’ court documents
  • Submission of a joint recommendation with the Appellate Court Procedural Rules Committee seeking to amend Pa.R.A.P. 342 and 313 with regard to the appealability of removing a fiduciary in orphans’ court matters.
As to the pending proposed PA Orphans' Court Model Accounts, the Publication Notice requests input as follows:
The Committee welcomes input from attorneys, judges and court administrators concerning the proposed revisions to Rule 6.1 and the proposed Model Accounts, and seeks suggestions as to additional forms which may be suitable for statewide use.
The Notice concludes: All communications in reference to the proposed rule change and accounting forms should be sent, no later than December 15, 2006, to the following address:
Dean R. Phillips, Chief Counsel, Orphans’ Court Procedural Rules Committee, 5035 Ritter Road, Suite 700, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

Or via E-Mail to: