While conservatorship accountings occur on an annual basis in most states, not every conservator will be subject to a more extensive audit. If you are a conservator and have received notice that your account is being audited, there is no reason to panic. Just because you are being audited does not mean you are in any legal trouble. The auditing process (at least in Minnesota) is generally straightforward and, if you are well prepared, you shouldn’t run into too much trouble if you follow these accounting tips.
Gather Your Records
The single most important accounting tip for conservators is keeping a well-organized, documented and strict record of all spending, investments, and other financial documentation. Auditors from the MN Conservator Account Auditing Program (CAAP) will require many documents from you in order to complete their audit.
The exact documents they will need should be expressed in the audit letter you receive. For conservators in Minnesota, there is an auditing checklist that will give you a good idea of the types of documents auditors will need to see. These can include:
- Copies of official bank statements for the entire account period
- An accounting of all assets (CDs, life insurance, investments, etc.)
- Copies of bills you have paid during the account period
- Receipts from anything else purchased using conservatorship funds
- Guardian and/or conservatorship fees paid
- Monthly credit card statements (if this was a method of payment) for the accounting period
- Documentation outlining any sales of real property (including the HUD settlement statement)
You can’t be too thorough in your bookkeeping or understanding of the assets that the protected person has. The more information you have, the easier the audit will be. It’s important to have precise information and values of all real estate, personal property and investments that the protected person has. It’s not uncommon for auditors to flag conservatorship accounts for incorrect values on investment statements, etc.
If you need to, contact an attorney for help or get in touch with the financial institution, bank, or any other organization that may have the information that you need.
Communicate With Auditors
Communication is key when it comes to conservator audits. If you have any questions on what you need to do, or what the auditors need, make sure to address your concerns with them. When you provide the documents that the CAAP asks for, be sure to ask the auditors if they need anything else. If CAAP auditors ask for adjustments for the accounting, do your best to make the changes. Most importantly, get in touch with an attorney or accountant if you feel you need help.
Disclaimer: this is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you need legal counsel, please contact an attorney directly.