Working with a trust administration legal firm can ease the burden of handling a loved one’s affairs. This is especially true if you’ve been named trustee.
Taking on the role of a trustee comes with many responsibilities and duties, including keeping detailed records, satisfying debts, paying taxes, distributing assets, and communicating with beneficiaries. Please fulfill these responsibilities to avoid costly mistakes and liabilities.
During the Life of the Trust
When someone decides to create a trust to manage their assets for the benefit of others, they work with an attorney to draft the actual document. In the process, they have the option to appoint a trustee. This trustee will manage the trust assets, make distributions, and pay bills on behalf of the trust. It is not uncommon for a family to choose a close relative as the trustee. While this can provide a sense of security, it can also strain the relationship with that person and cause problems. Professional trustees can separate the financial relationship from the familial one, which can be an advantage for many families.
A trustworthy legal firm can also help to protect trustees from liability. A trustee must follow strict timelines and procedures when managing the trust, including completing tax-related tasks. Having an experienced legal team on your side can ensure these obligations are met and can minimize the possibility of complaints or lawsuits from unhappy beneficiaries.
Lastly, an attorney can help to ensure that all of the trustee’s duties are clearly outlined in the trust instrument. If a trustee is unfamiliar with California law, it can be easy to understand or interpret these obligations. Beneficiaries are also entitled to inspect and challenge trustee accountings, so having a lawyer on your side can make this process much smoother.
After the Death of the Trustee
Many people who set up trusts are unprepared for what happens after death. As a result, many tasks need to be accomplished during the probate process. This can be complex and time-consuming. During this time, trustees must provide notice to beneficiaries/heirs and keep accurate records of assets. This can be complicated, and any mistakes made can lead to expensive lawsuits.
Hiring a lawyer can help ensure that all the requirements of the best trust administration legal firm in California are met. It can also prevent a trustee from being removed by heirs due to procedural errors. Beneficiaries may be able to claim that a trustee is in breach of fiduciary duty by withholding information or failing to provide an accounting, and a legal firm can help to minimize these risks by giving the legally required disclosures and dealing with heirs on the trustee’s behalf.
A professional trustee has not been in a beneficiary’s life as long as a family member and will need to be intentional about learning each family member’s personality, interests, and communication style. It is also essential for them to work with a New York trust administration legal firm to ensure that they follow all the laws and regulations in administering the trust and avoid costly mistakes.
A good trustee will have a list of successors who can step in should they be unable or unwilling to continue serving. In the case of a professional trustee, this should be included in their contract. This will help to avoid a rocky transition for beneficiaries and save money in the long run.
After the Death of the Settlor
As mentioned earlier, a trustee is responsible for administering a trust according to the trust agreement and law. This includes providing notice to the beneficiaries/heirs, distributing assets, keeping detailed records of the trust business, and paying any taxes. Many of these tasks can be time-consuming, complicated, and stressful for non-professional trustees. It is a good idea to work with an experienced trustee attorney to ensure that all requirements are adequately met and legally met.
Additionally, suppose a living trust contains real property. In that case, an affidavit and a certified copy of the death certificate against each piece of real estate should be recorded to transfer the title from the deceased settlor to the successor trustee. The affidavit and change of ownership form should be completed to avoid property tax reassessment after the settlor’s death.
In addition, several deadlines must be met during the administration of a trust. If a trustee misses any of these deadlines, he or she could be held liable for breach of fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries. A trusted estate planning lawyer can ensure that all steps are taken promptly to protect the trustee from liability claims by beneficiaries or third parties. Furthermore, the costs of a trustee attorney can often be paid from trust assets, so there is no reason for a trustee not to seek legal counsel.