When a loved one dies, those left behind are charged with the task of discharging debts and administering the decedent’s estate. If you have been placed in such a position, you may have many questions about how to proceed.
Our firm understands that individuals may feel overwhelmed by trust administration. Our legal team stands behind clients at every stage of the process. We review existing wills and trusts and take all steps necessary to prepare for the transfer of property to named beneficiaries. We assist clients in locating and cataloging assets.
We assist trustees in such a way so as to ensure their fullest protection and facilitate the transfers in a timely and efficient manner. At StakerLaw, nothing is more important than being there for our clients whenever they have a need, change or question.
In short, we do everything within our power to ensure a smooth process.
We have significant experience in assisting with the administration of trusts, in advising trustees, and assisting beneficiaries regarding their rights and expectations. We prepare estate tax returns and deal with the Internal Revenue Service on various estate tax related issues, including valuation disputes and significant legal issues. Our staff is very experienced with trust and estate administration matters, allowing us to accomplish the necessary tasks efficiently.
Once the grief of a loved one’s death has passed, you will have to turn to the business of administering the trust. If you are the trustee of trust, you can expect many demands are going to be made on you. Beneficiaries want their money, the government wants taxes paid, and creditors want their bills paid. Our firm can help demystify the trust administration process for you.
There are generally three main responsibilities that occur upon someone’s death with regard to their estate assets. Someone will be responsible for ensuring that 1) The decedent’s assets are collected and managed; 2) All debts, taxes and expenses of the decedent are paid, or properly dealt with; and 3) Administering and distributing the assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries.
A trustee is classified by law as a “fiduciary” – defined as a person or entity “who by reason of a Trust, Will, court order or other instrument has the responsibility for the acquisition, investment, reinvestment, exchange, retention, sale, or management of money or property of another.” Other fiduciaries include persons acting under power of attorney. Often there are huge responsibilities and significant potential liability if the successor trustee fails to perform the required duties.
A successor trustee takes over the management of a living trust when the original trustee of the trust is no longer able to serve as trustee or when the original trustee dies. When a successor takes over as trustee everything changes.
The successor trustee manages the trust assets according to the specific instructions contained in the Trust. The successor trustee has the same kinds of duties that an executor would have in probating a Will. However, distributing from a Trust does not usually require court supervision, and is therefore more simple and private than probate. Almost always, the trustee can use certified copies of the Death Certificate and the Trust Agreement to begin managing assets right away, instead of waiting for a court order as required in probate.
Fees for trust administration are hourly and generally quite a bit less than for the same size probate. The attorney will review the trust terms, discuss your responsibilities, and provide assistance throughout the administration process. Much of the work will depend on the size, complexity, and number of beneficiaries of the Trust. Most trusts also pay a fee to the successor trustee.
Tax preparer fees are also necessary, and will vary depending on the size, complexity, and number of beneficiaries of the Trust. Other costs typically involve appraisal fees and insurance premiums for real or personal property. Nonetheless, the costs associated with a trust administration tend to be less than a probate. For example, there will not be any court filing fees or costs for publishing legal notices.
To learn more about trust administration, or if you would like a consultation to begin trust administration, please do not hesitate to contact us at (805) 482-2282, or e-mail us at KGS@Staker.com