Trust Administration &
What do you need to know?
Trust Administration and Probate
After a death, there are legal steps which must be taken to transfer the deceased person’s assets and to wind up the legal issues associated with the death. A trust administrator or a personal representative will be in charge of winding up the affairs of the estate. Heirs and beneficiaries also need to be aware of what is going on with the probate and trust administration process to make certain that their interests are protected.
What is Involved in Probate and Trust Administration?
The probate process and the trust administration process both involve taking certain legal steps in order to deal with the legal issues created by a death. Except in limited cases, when a person dies, his or her assets do not just transfer automatically to new owners. Instead, there are steps which must be taken – which could include paying taxes, having the assets valued, and changing titles or deeds. The probate and trust administration processes are the most common ways to transfer assets following a death.
Probate and trust administration both achieve the same goal: getting assets to the correct new owner after a death. The processes, however, differ substantially.
Probate is overseen by a personal representative chosen by the deceased and named in their will, or a personal representative named by the court if there is no will. Trust administration is overseen by a trustee chosen and named in the trust document.
Probate happens in court. Trust administration happens outside of court, unless there is a problem with the way the trustee does his or her job and the heirs file suit.
Probate occurs if the deceased has a last will and testament or, in some cases, if the deceased died intestate (without a will). Trust administration occurs only with respect to assets owned by the trust.
These are just a few of the things you need to know about trust administration and probate. During both processes, the trustee or personal representative has a legal duty to act in the deceased person’s best interests. They should get help from a probate and trust administration attorney to fulfill their roles. Heirs and beneficiaries should also be represented so they can make certain that their inheritance is kept safe during the process.
Who Should Get help with the Probate & Trust Administration Process?
It is important for personal representatives and trustees to know what official steps need to be taken in order to fulfill their roles. Personal representatives and trustees not only have to deal with things like filing court paperwork, filing tax returns, paying estate taxes, and dealing with notifying heirs and creditors, but they also have an obligation to make sure the assets are managed appropriately. This can be complicated, and having legal help can make the process easier.
Heirs who stand to inherit also need to make sure that the property which will become theirs is being managed appropriately and that they are able to inherit in a timely manner. An attorney can help. Finally, anyone who wishes to contest a will should get professional legal advice so they can understand the process and make the strongest arguments possible.
Estate Planning Article
These reports are compliments of Schneider Rasche LLC and were written by The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.