Advising Clients on Estate & Trust Administration
When someone dies, it is difficult to know where to start. Like estate planning, estate administration is specific to each deceased person and his or her assets, and how they were titled. It is important to work with a firm that will evaluate all the estate and trust assets, and then develop a plan on how to deal with each in accordance with the decedent’s estate planning documents and intent. Probating a Will, which is a court process, is neither fun nor easy, but with proper guidance you can try to keep the probate process to a minimum. If it is necessary to go through probate, we can offer assistance with filing the inventory, accountings, notices to beneficiaries, tax ID numbers, and estate tax returns.
If assets are in a trust or pass to a trust, we can assist trustees with their fiduciary duties and obligations, including, but not limited to, proper administration of the assets, notification of beneficiaries, receipts, refunding bonds, tax ID numbers, and disclosure requirements. Sometimes, the trust agreement needs to be modified to accommodate a change in circumstances, which is called a “trust modification”. If allowed, these modifications can be done with the consent of all qualified beneficiaries in what is referred to as a “non-judicial modification.” Sometimes a court approval is required, which is referred to as a “judicial modification.” All of these potential changes are structured under the Uniform Trust Code.
Serving as an executor or trustee should not be taken lightly. If the executor or trustee does not administer the assets properly, the person serving can be personally liable to the beneficiaries. It is important to work with a law firm and accountant that can help you as a fiduciary with these matters, and hopefully make the process go more smoothly and quickly than trying to do it on your own.