Trust Administration Lawyer Helping Residents in New Bedford, Hyannis & Easton
Many individuals and families are creating trust-based estate plans to avoid probate and for other estate planning objectives. After the owner of a trust passes away, a trust administration process will take place. Trust administration allows the appointed trustees to carry out the terms of the trust. During the process, trustees manage the trust for the beneficiaries who will eventually receive the assets or income owned by the trust.
Trust administration is a necessary but often complicated part of the estate planning process. If you’ve been appointed as a trustee or a beneficiary of a trust, hiring a trust administration lawyer will help you navigate the trust administration process. At Surprenant & Beneski, PC, our legal team of estate planning attorneys have successfully helped many clients navigate the complicated trust administration process throughout Southeastern Massachusetts. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you navigate the trust administration process.
What Is Trust Administration?
Many of our clients create trust-based estate plans so they can avoid the probate process. Trust Administration is often less expensive and time-consuming than going through the probate process in Massachusetts. While trust-based estate plans often allow a smoother transition after a loved one’s death, families must still undergo a trust administration process that requires the help of an estate planning lawyer and other professionals, such as accountants and appraisers. Understanding the duties and expenses related to trust administration will help families as they navigate the process.
The first part of the trust administration process involves setting up an administrative trust with a tax identification number. The trust will typically need to pay for the deceased individual’s funeral and potentially any end-of-life medical expenses. The trust will also likely need to pay for bills and administrative costs related to trust administration, such as CPA and attorney fees. In most cases, the trustee will establish a new bank account in the name of the administrative trust to track expenses and pay bills.
The Duties of a Trustee
If you’ve been appointed as a trustee of your late loved one’s trust, you are likely wondering what your duties will entail. Trustees owe a fiduciary duty to the trust beneficiaries and must complete certain tasks to fulfill the fiduciary duty. A trustee’s duties are just as complex as those of an executor or personal representative during the probate administration process. However, trustees are not overseen by the probate court, which is the case for personal representatives. During the process, trustees must complete the following tasks:
- take control of all of the assets owned by the trust
- appraise all of the trust assets at their fair market values
- file an affidavit regarding the trustor’s death
- send notices to the decedent’s legal heirs
- send notice of the decedent’s death to the beneficiaries of the trust
- manage the trust assets according to the trust agreement
- wisely invest the trust assets for the beneficiary’s benefit
- file a final income tax return on behalf of the decedent
- open a bank account for the trust
- determine the beneficiary status of the decedent’s retirement accounts
- notify all financial institutions and banks of the decedent’s death
- file a death tax return
- make tax decisions that can impact the assets in the trust
- transfer or sell trust assets to pay tax liability and other debts
The above list is not exhaustive, and there are many additional responsibilities of the trustee after the decedent’s death. This list simply contains the most common duties of a trustee during the trust administration process. Every trust is unique, and the trust agreement that governs the trust will have specific guidelines.
The Consequences of an Illegally Administered Trust
When the trustees fail to administer the trust well, the beneficiaries have a right to take legal action against the trustees. Beneficiaries can claim that the trust administrators are making poor decisions, making decisions based on self-interest, acting recklessly, or wrongly favoring one beneficiary over others. Beneficiaries can also take legal action against trustees for not taking enough action to adequately manage the trust. When these types of trust administration disputes arise, both the beneficiary and the trustee need legal representation to protect their rights.
The Benefits of Hiring a Trust Administration Lawyer
Facing the death of a loved one can be one of the most stressful situations we go through. If you or a friend experiences a loved one’s death and needs help related to trust administration, hiring an experienced estate planning lawyer is one of the best steps you can take. Every trust is unique, and an inexperienced estate planning lawyer will be able to review the trust agreement’s terms and advise you of your rights. In some cases, our clients would like us to review the trust agreement and advise them regarding specific questions. In other cases, our clients would like us to actively help them manage the trust to focus on grieving their loved ones during this difficult time. Whatever your estate planning needs, the experienced estate planning lawyers at Surprenant & Beneski, PC are here to help.
Contact a Southeastern Massachusetts Trust Administration Lawyer
At Surprenant & Beneski, PC, our experienced trust administration lawyers work closely with our clients to assist them in their duties. We understand how difficult it is for families to deal with complicated legal matters after their loved one’s death or incapacitation. From our initial meeting with you, our legal team will help you walk through the process of administering a trust. If you’ve been appointed a trustee, we can help you fulfill your legal duties. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.