How to Petition a Probate Court for a Full Accounting of a Trust

Legal aspects of trust accounting can be complex and arcane.
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A petition for trust accounting is a legal document which may be filed in a civil court of equity in a county or state, in accordance with Rules of Civil Procedure for that location (jurisdiction). A person (for example, a beneficiary) or entity, which has a legal interest in the trust, may file the petition.

Securing the information, documents, legal research, and knowledge necessary to file a petition

Step 1

Find the proper civil division for the probate court in your location, where such petitions are required to be filed.

Probate courts vary by name in different states and counties. In New Jersey, for example, the probate court is called the Surrogate Court. In Pennsylvania, its name is the Orphan's Court.

Step 2

Locate the law publications you require either on the Internet (if those are available and you have the privilege to access them) or in your local library (which, if you are fortunate, is a local public law library). Ask a librarian to direct you to the books and publications you will need.

Step 3

Find the correct form and required content for proper preparation of the petition. Find examples of format and related information, as well as where and how to submit the petition to the court, by searching the Rules of Civil Procedure for your local courts.

Step 4

Research and follow the applicable Rules of Civil Procedure. Ensure that, in addition to filing your petition properly, you also serve (send copies) to those required to be notified of your initiating the civil proceeding, seeking a trust accounting.


  • Depending on the trust, the legal procedures, which could also involve court hearings, are complex, potentially convoluted, and time-consuming. You may wish to retain competent legal counsel to protect you and your interests. Some attorneys specialize in probate matters.


  • Some courts still require arcane forms of trust accounting. Know that the accounting information which may be provided may not be in a familiar form. You may need the help of an accountant to interpret the paperwork supplied.

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