If you’ve been named a trustee, or you’re planning on creating a living trust, you should reach out to an estate planning lawyer who can explain what a trust entails. Being in charge of trust means managing the trust and following the established terms and conditions. As an estate planning lawyer in Warwick, RI from a firm like McCarthy Law, LLC can explain, failure to do so can get you sued.
Trusts are complicated, but there’s a definite reason for creating one in the first place. If you only leave a will behind, you’re opening your loved ones up to probate, which is a long and challenging process that comes with all sorts of taxes and fees – as well as room for argumentation and debate between your friends, family, and anyone else named in the will. On the other hand, a trust cuts out the probate process, and can’t be argued easily.
Creating a trust is one thing, being named as a trustee is something else completely. As a trustee, you are responsible for fulfilling the last wishes of the deceased. This means trust administration, which (while much less painful than probate) means plenty of legal hoops to jump through. Read on to learn a little more about trust administration, and see how an estate planning lawyer can explain further.
What Does Trust Administration Entail?
When you administer a trust, there are a few key steps you need to take care of before anyone receives anything that’s been left behind for them. The first (and arguably most important step) is to collect all the relevant documentation and paperwork. This will provide you with the assets in the trust and the instructions for what should be done with these assets. Collecting paperwork is the first step towards ensuring you’re satisfactorily carrying out the last wishes of the deceased.
Next comes securing and valuing the assets. This involves tracking down the assets listed in the trust, and ensuring the proper value is assigned to each of them. If it’s listed in the trust, it needs to be valued – no matter how big or small. As the trustee, you have a responsibility to ensure these assets are also secure before you notify beneficiaries and (if applicable) creditors.
Once you get in touch with the beneficiaries and creditors, you have to keep them in the loop. If they request copies of the trust for their own records, you have to provide those as well. And if you have to reach out to any creditors, it’s your job to ensure any outstanding debt held by the deceased is paid off. You’ll be filing the final tax return, and you’ll be paying off any final expenses (such as funeral arrangements) as well.
When you finally have everything paid off, you can distribute the assets listed in the trust. This is when beneficiaries finally get what’s been bequeathed to them. In some cases, the trust may instruct certain assets to be released at certain dates. Every trust is different, and it helps to contact a legal professional to walk you through the entire process.
Reach out to a Trust Administration and Estate Planning Lawyer
The trustee is an honored position, but it takes a lot of work – and there’s plenty of opportunity for legal mistakes along the way. Get in touch with a qualified trust administration and estate planning lawyer as soon as you can, and learn how you can make this process smoother.