Trust and Estate Administration

Introduction

After their loved ones have passed away, many of our clients have found themselves responsible for the management of a trust or the administration of an estate. Most of our clients only realize later that in this new position they must deal with many legal requirements, not to mention the legal liabilities that could affect them if they make a mistake.

Estate Settlement: Probate and Administration

Estate Administration is the process of settling the estate of a deceased person if that person left property in his or sole name at death. The first step is the appointment of an estate representative, known as an Executor if there is a will, through a Court process knows as Probate. If there is no will an application to the Court for appointment of an Administrator, in a process called Administration, is required. Estate Executors and Administrators act on behalf of all estate beneficiaries, that is, for those persons named in the will or those entitled to them by law if there is no will.

Executors and Administrators

The Surrogate’s Court appoints Executors and Administrators, usually, in response to a petition and other documents filed in Court by an attorney. An experienced estate administration attorney will be able to streamline and lay out the steps so that nothing is missed during the estate settlement which takes at least 9 months and may last one or more years, depending on many factors. The estate’s lawyer will prepare, file papers and appear in Court and guide you with regards to all the responsibilities of an appointed estate representative,

These responsibilities of an estate representative but include (but are not limited to) collecting assets and selling assets as needed (i.e. real estate or stock), filing the decedent’s final tax returns, determining if there is an estate tax, filing state and federal estate tax returns and yearly fiduciary income tax returns, managing and investing property, paying or settling claims and expenses of the estate, and setting up trusts as directed in a will for certain beneficiaries. An estate representative must then “account” for all his or her activities, including the collection and investment of estate assets and the payment of expenses and taxes by the estate. Then, the Executor or Administrator will distribute or “pay out” the assets to the estate beneficiaries.

Trust Settlement

An estate may involve the settlement of a Trust created by a decedent during his or her lifetime which directs distribution of assets upon death. The Trust settlement process does not usually require an application to the Court, provided that all assets to be distributed after death were transferred to the Trust during the lifetime of the Trust creator or grantor. Like a probate or administration settlement, a Trust settlement may involve the sale of liquidation of real and/or personal property so it can be distributed pursuant to the Trusts terms. Before distribution the Trustee must pay all debts of the decedent and all personal, estate and trust taxes. Then, like an Administrator or Executor, a Trustee must account for all his or her activities to the Trust beneficiaries before distributing all beneficiary shares and terminating the Trust. Because trusts do not usually require a Court application or process Trusts are often settled sooner than non-Trust estates.

What Else Happens To My Money When I Die?

Attorneys at Grimaldi & Yeung can answer all your questions regarding the administration of a trusts and estates, and we can verify that the terms have been followed. We regularly advise clients in complex estate administration and trust management scenarios involving, among other things:

Our compassionate approach is of special value in estate administration and trust management matters. These matters often involve discussions of clients’ most personal concerns. To make these discussions most effective for all of our clients, we offer services in a variety of languages, including Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese.