The death of a loved one raises many legal questions. For some families, those questions revolve around issues related to the probate process. For families with more complex estate planning, however, matters involving the settlement of the estate and distribution of assets are often accomplished without probate. Using living trusts, many individuals now ensure asset distribution without relying on court-supervised probate.
Trust administration is the process used to ensure that your trust instructions are carried out in accordance with your expressed wishes. Like probate, the trust administration process can be complex. You can minimize that complexity by relying on trust administration professionals like the legal team at the Law Office of Roy W. Litherland. Our California trust administration experts will work to ensure that everyone involved in your trust administration process receives the guidance and assistance needed to ensure that the trust works as it should.
We urge you to contact us today to get the help you need to more efficiently manage your trust administration effort. You can get in touch with us by using our website or by calling (408) 356-9200 in Campbell or (831) 476-2400 in Aptos. We’re eager to hear from you and answer important questions like:
- What is trust administration?
- Why might I need legal counsel during any trust administration?
- How can a California trust administration attorney help me?
What Is Trust Administration?
Trust administration involves all the tasks and duties necessary for the proper management of a decedent’s trust. If your loved one created a trust, he did so by drafting a document that names a trustee, identifies beneficiaries, and provides terms that detail his instructions for how the trust is to accomplish its goals. Typically, a trust will detail who gets distributions, when they get them, and how those distributions are to occur.
Every trustee is obligated to follow any lawful instructions contained within the trust, and must take control of the trust entity once the grantor dies. He or she is charged with protecting those assets, maintaining their value, and carrying out all duties necessary for proper trust administration.
The trust administration process involves many important tasks:
- The trustee is charged with notifying creditors and beneficiaries of the decedent’s death, just as executors are tasked with doing as part of the probate process. This notification provides creditors with an opportunity to levy claims against the estate, and gives beneficiaries notice that they have been chosen to receive an inheritance.
- The trustee has a responsibility to maintain a complete and accurate accounting of all trust income and expenditures, while maintaining the value of all assets owned by the trust.
- Where assets need to be invested, the trustee must responsibly invest with an eye toward reducing risk of asset loss.
- Trusts always have expenses associated with their operations. It is the trustee’s job to ensure that those expenses are paid in a timely manner, using trust assets as payment.
- Trustees must file tax returns for the trust, and make any required payments using trust assets.
- Trustees will need to transfer ownership of assets in accordance with the instructions detailed within the trust document. This can involve the transfer of deeds, titles, and other ownership documents to their new owners.
- Throughout this process, the trustee has a fiduciary duty to all beneficiaries, and must be committed to placing their interests above his own. Other legal responsibilities may attach as well.
Many of these duties can be quite involved, and may require that trustees retain professional legal counsel. A California trust administration attorney can help you to more easily navigate the administration process to ensure that your personal interests receive the liability protection you need.
Why Might I Need Legal Counsel During Any Trust Administration?
There are several reasons why you might require legal help during trust administration. If you are the trustee, then you have a legal duty that requires that you meet a high standard under the law. In fact, that fiduciary duty is the highest duty imposed by law. You’re not only charged with following the decedent’s trust terms, but must do so while adhering to every letter of the law, and exercising the highest ethical standards while handling trust assets.
In addition, the law can be complex for untrained laypersons, and legal assistance can help you to ensure that your own interests are protected. Mistakes are easy to make, and can have dire consequences when they result in harm to the trust. With a lawyer’s assistance, you can avoid the potential for mistakes and avoid the stress that this process can create.
Of course, if you’re an estate beneficiary, you can benefit from legal counsel too. Often, it can be useful to have someone to advocate for your interests and keep a watchful eye on how the trust is being administered. While most trustees are faithful in their handling of estate assets, that’s not true in every case. And since there is no ongoing court supervision of trust administration, it can be helpful to have someone who can provide you with early indications that something is amiss.
How Can a California Trust Administration Attorney Help Me?
With the right San Jose Trust Administration Attorneys by your side, you can more effectively fulfill your duties as a trustee, get the guidance you need as a beneficiary, or obtain help to challenge the terms of a trust if you believe that you’ve been denied your rightful inheritance. The Law Office of Roy W. Litherland can provide that assistance with trust administration services that fit your unique needs. Get the help you need today and schedule a free California trust administration consultation by reaching out to us through this site or calling (408) 356-9200 in Campbell or (831) 476-2400 in Aptos.