When a loved one dies it can be a confusing time in which you are in immense grief while also needing to make sure you handle all the technical details of locating assets, paying bills and making sure your loved one’s assets get to the right people, without conflict. We are here to help.
Whether your loved one created a trust to hold their assets, or did not, he or she did have assets (called the estate of the deceased) that must be handled with careful attention and it’s critical that you work with a Personal Family Lawyer® who can help you to do the right thing, minimize conflict and ensure the smoothest possible transition of assets.
When someone creates a trust as part of their estate plan, they must name a trustee to ensure the trust’s terms are handled properly. These individuals must carry out all of the trust’s instructions, and they’re legally responsible for doing so within the scope of federal and state law. Such duties are known as trust administration.
Serving in this capacity entails a huge level of responsibility and liability. What’s more, most people named as trustee will have limited, if any, background or experience in the legal and financial duties that come with administering a trust. In this case, Liz Smith Law can work with the trustee to ensure the trust is administered properly and all legal requirements are satisfied.
If there is not a trust or if not all assets have been properly titled in the name of a trust that was created, we can help your family through the process of estate administration, usually requiring a court process, called probate. If you are a beneficiary of an estate, or an executor or trustee, contact us for support in handling the transition of your loved ones assets as easily as possible.
Trust and Estate Administration
We work closely with the family, beneficiaries, and other advisors to ensure the decedent’s trust assets are collected, debts are paid, and the remaining assets are distributed to the named trust beneficiaries, or to the heirs of the estate. Depending on the type of trust involved, assets may be distributed outright to the named beneficiaries, or they might be held in trust for the future benefit of the named beneficiaries. If there is no trust, assets will either be distributed outright to heirs named in a will, or by statute, or held by a guardian named by the court until an heir reaches the age of majority.
During this time, we may also need to have appraisals of major assets completed in order to get a clear picture of what the decedent’s net worth was for estate tax purposes. Additionally, the title of trustor other estate assets may need to be changed to indicate new ownership by the named beneficiary outright or under a continuing trust.
All of this can be a hugely complicated and time consuming, but our trust and estate administration lawyers will transfer assets as quickly and smoothly as possible, resolve outstanding issues, and ensure that everything occurs within the applicable legal deadlines.
Trust and Estate Administration Services
Below, we’ve outlined some of our most common trust and estate administration services. We can accomplish the following duties without unnecessary delay and with utmost respect for your personal privacy and your family relationships.
- Identification, collection, and determination of values of assets
- Payment of all debts, expenses, and taxes from estate and trust assets, with submission of regular accountings
- Advice as to disposition of jointly held assets, life insurance, and retirement benefits that pass outside a will or trust
- Preparation of state and federal, gift, generation-skipping transfer, and gift tax returns
- Notifying all heirs and beneficiaries of the trust or estate
- Communicating with beneficiaries
Our primary objective is to make this process as easy as possible for you, and minimize the impact of going to court, while also keeping your family out of conflict.