What a Trust Administration Lawyer Can Do for You

Trust-based estate planning is increasingly becoming a popular choice for safeguarding one's assets in the event of a person's unfortunate passing. This type of estate planning also helps individuals, medically and financially, during their lifetime if they become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for themselves.

Trust attorneys help with the legal process of creating and setting up a trust for your estate. Forming a trust can be a complex process. There are many decisions to be taken, for example, what assets go into the trust, which beneficiary will receive what amount, the timeframe in which the assets are to be distributed, and additional clauses for children. An attorney experienced in managing trusts will help you navigate through these legal and financial decisions.

A trustee is an individual who is appointed to take care of and manage trust affairs in case the owner is incapacitated or passes away. An attorney could help the trustee with several administration activities, trust litigation issues, and probate proceedings if not all assets were marked to the trust.

Here is what a trust administration lawyer can do for you.

Assistance in Probate Proceedings

In case there is no trust created, or if there is a scenario wherein assets have not been appropriately titled to the trust, beneficiaries will have to go through a probation process for the process of estate administration.

A probate process can be time-consuming and expensive. One can avoid the public process by planning for unfortunate eventualities by creating trust and outlining clear financial instructions.

A probate is a process wherein the court supervises the legal transfer of the deceased's assets to the rightful heir and beneficiaries. The process becomes necessary when the validity of the will needs to be proved. And if there is no trust or will in place, then the probate process follows the state law for distributing assets.

In case you find yourself in a situation where probate is unavoidable, then an attorney will guide you through the legal process with as minimal time and expenses as possible.

Legal Guidance in Trust Administration

One of the primary duties of trust attorneys is to help the trustee with the estate administration process and ensure the process is carried out as quickly and smoothly as possible. Being named as trustee for a trust is both a big responsibility and liability. If you are unsure how to go about the estate administration process, it is best to take help from an attorney.

As a trustee, you will be responsible for:
- Notifying legal heirs and beneficiaries about the pending administration process
- Taking inventory and appraising the assets in the estate
- Paying and outstanding debts and taxes
- Drafting and managing account documents
- Preparing state and federal tax returns
- Distributing assets among heirs and beneficiaries as per trust guidelines

Being a trustee could also be a liability because beneficiaries could sue him/her for wrongdoings, mishandling of assets, or omissions in the future by the beneficiaries. For example, family members may file a lawsuit against the trustee if they are expected to receive more as a part of their inheritance.

An experienced attorney can help identify such gaps in the writings well in advance to save the trustee from any form of liability.

Trust Litigation

Disagreements or disputes between the trustee and the beneficiaries could lead to trust litigation. It is the responsibility of the trustee to carry out the estate administration process transparently. They should abide by the instructions laid out by the trust owner and impartially manage the process of distributing assets.

Typically legal heirs or other beneficiaries could choose to file a lawsuit against the trustee if they feel the trustee has not carried out their duties according to the trust rules. Other scenarios include improper handling of assets, distribution of assets in favor of one party over another, or any such wrongdoings on the trustee's end. One could also sue the trustee if the beneficiaries feel they lack mental clarity to make a decision.

An attorney will guide the trustee through the estate administration process, carry out the process fairly and transparently according to trust terms, and gain necessary assurances from beneficiaries once the distribution process is complete.

Managing the estate of an individual as a trustee can be a legally complex and emotionally draining process. Trust attorneys will help you understand these legalities and help conduct your responsibilities fair and square. Keeping matters out of the court and concluding the process in a stress-free manner for the trustee is the attorneys' prime objective.     

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Posted - 04/28/2021