Monday, April 02, 2007

PA's New Orphans' Ct Accounting Forms

On March 29, 2007, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an Order approving the final form of new model account forms for use by estates, trusts, & charitable unitrusts, and placing the previously-approved Uniform Fiduciary Accounting Principles as an appendix to an applicable Orphans' Court Rule.

For background about the previously-approved Principles, and the then-proposed model forms of accounting, see: PA EE&F Law Blog posting "PA SC OC Rls Cte Proposes Revised Model Fiduciary Accounts" (November 3, 2006).

The PA Supreme Court acted upon the recommendations of its Orphans' Court Procedural Rules Committee, which had "spent the last 18 months reviewing and developing proposed revisions and forms." On October 31, 2006, that Committee had issued a Publication Notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, the Commonwealth's official gazette for information and rulemaking. The Committee requested comments about the proposed model forms from interested persons by December 15, 2006.

The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) issued a Press Release, also dated March 29, 2007, announcing the approved new model accounting forms and providing links for reference:

A more uniform and understandable way for people or institutions appointed by a judge to administer a trust fund, or the dealings of someone who's deceased, was put into effect today by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

The Supreme Court amended Orphans' Court Procedural Rule 6.1, revised several existing forms, and created a new one for use by fiduciaries, or those who are required to regularly provide a history of the transactions of a trust or estate.

Though models of such accountings are an integral part of Orphans' Court proceedings and have long been used as guides, today's Supreme Court order requires statewide use of forms of account that are consistent with the model forms - except upon special order of the court. Standardization assists the Orphans' Court when there is a need to review multiple accounts, and it also enhances a beneficiary's understanding of how a fiduciary is handling the affairs of a trust or estate. * * *
The 2-page Court Order provides, as follows:
(1) Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court Rule 6.1 is amended as follows;

(2) The Model Executor’s Account and Model Trustee’s Account previously attached to the Uniform Fiduciary Accounting Principles, approved pursuant to Rule 6.1(g) and included in an Appendix following Rule 6.1 are rescinded and the revised model accounts (renamed “Model Estate Account” and “Model Trust Account” respectively) are approved and included in the Forms Appendix following the Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court Rules;

(3) A Model Charitable Unitrust Account is approved and is set forth in the Forms Appendix following the Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court Rules;

(4) The Uniform Fiduciary Accounting Principles previously approved pursuant to Rule 6.1(g) and included in an Appendix following Rule 6.1(g) are relocated to the Forms Appendix following the Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court Rules; and
(5) The Index to Appendix is amended as follows.
Paragraph 5. of the Order references the Index to Appendix of the Orphans' Court and Administrative Forms, which is now updated. All forms listed in the Index are available online, in a "fill-in" format, under the heading Orphans' Court Forms. On that webpage, these forms are marked "NEW":
Model Forms of Account

National Fiduciary Accounting Standards Project - 1983 Report of Fiduciary Accounting Standards Committee

Model Estate Account

Model Trust Account

Model Charitable Remainder Unitrust Account

The rulemaking actions are reflected in the mark-up of amended Supreme Court Orphans' Court Rule 6.1, which shows additions & deletions.

The Press Release mentioned the recent activity of the Committee and the Supreme Court's reliance upon its work:
Today's action marks the Supreme Court's third significant Orphans' Court rule improvement within a year.

The Supreme Court adopted new rules last fall to ease the burden of people who adopt children from another country by creating a standardized registration process and making those forms available online.

Another enhancement was the approval of new statewide forms - which also are available for the first time online - that fell into four defined categories: audit and administration; guardianship; abortion control act and register of wills. * * *

[See: PA EE&F Law Blog posting New Uniform Orphans' Court Forms in PA (October 18, 2006).]
According to the Supreme Court's Order, these changes "shall become effective thirty days from the date of entry". This Order is unlike some other orders amending procedural rules that state an effective date.

So, we are left, again, to count the days to an effective date, just as for the effective date of the PA UTA in 2006 and the effective date of Act 169 in 2007.
Dan Evans, Esq., of Philadelphia -- who first drew the attention of the Bar to these published changes last Friday -- calculated the effective date as follows: "These changes are effective in 30 days, which should be April 28th (if my calendar math is correct)."

But, April 28th is a Saturday. (Dan told me, he knew that; and he figured that someone who needed to file an account would too.)

Since Monday, April 30th will be the first business day after the weekend, the changes will certainly be in effect by then. So the changes will be effectively "effective" on & after April 30, 2007.

* * *
Update: 04/03/07:

Vince F. Lackner, Jr., Esq. provided a comparison of the old suggested format (1974), to the new mandatory formats (2007). See: PA EE&F Law Blog, "Comparison of PA's Old & New Accounting Formats" (04/03/07).

Update: 04/06/07:

For my posting of Mr. Gillin's comments, see: PA EE&F Law Blog, "Clarifications on PA's New Accounting Formats" (04/06/07).