It is important to understand that just because a person (“Trustmaker”) has a trust does not mean that there is no administration necessary upon the Trustmaker’s death. That is, even though you have a trust which may be fully funded with your assets (except special assets such as retirement plan accounts and IRA’s), you still must take action to administer the trust upon the Trustmaker’s death.
Administration involving a trust may be less burdensome, costly and time-consuming than without a trust, however, even with a trust there are administration procedures to be followed. There are requirements to file government forms and documents, creditors may need to be notified, real estate titles will need to be handled, tax returns will be required, estate tax returns may need to be filed (and taxes may need to be paid), assets will need to be appraised and valued, notification to beneficiaries as required by law, an accounting to beneficiaries may be required, and numerous other administration tasks are required.
If the Trust is a “joint” trust (husband and wife or spouses trust) containing estate tax savings trusts provisions (called “A-B” Trust or “A-B-C” Trust) this will involve special administration work including the valuation of assets and the allocation and distribution of assets between the Trusts. This is a highly technical area of trust administration and qualified, competent legal and accounting professionals should be engaged.
We Make Trust Administration Understandable and Manageable
I have represented and counseled on the administration of a wide variety of trusts. Many trusts are administered informally and are settled smoothly, promptly and without unusual occurrences. This is the goal we will together implement.
I will explain to you and guide you in the administration process in plain English so the worry and intimidation are gone and your loved one’s estate can be settled as smoothly and quickly as possible.
Sometimes there are complexities in a trust’s administration. I have represented trusts that have involved unusual issues or complexities and can advise you if this occurs. I have filed numerous probate court petitions seeking instructions in the interpretation or enforcement of a trust and I can advise and represent you if this becomes the case.
My services include:
- Trust administration upon a Trustmaker’s incapacity
- Trust administration upon a Trustmaker’s death
- Probate court petitions affecting trust property and title to trust property
- Probate court petitions for instructions to the Trustee
- Probate administration of a “pour-over” Will (a Will accompanying a Living Trust) to transfer assets back to the trust.
I recommend that you have your Living Trust and Estate Plan documents reviewed every three to five years. You might think of your Trust and Estate Plan as an automobile which requires regular maintenance and tune-ups. At such reviews, I often find that clients have acquired some new assets which have not been properly funded into the trust, or a change in family circumstances, or the tax law has occurred which requires an amendment to the Living Trust, the estate plan documents or beneficiary designations. For example, while I hope this is never your circumstance, divorce has a substantial effect on one’s estate plan and you will want to seek prompt legal advice. This is especially important if you have named your spouse’s children as beneficiaries under your estate plan. Additionally, naming responsible adult children directly as primary beneficiary on IRA-retirement accounts may provide them increased flexibility, so periodic review and monitoring of your beneficiary designations is also important. Reviewing your estate plan on a regular basis will allow you to keep up with changes in the law and help you to achieve your goals of providing for your loved ones and avoiding probate and conservatorship.