What is Trust Administration?
Those who have a trust as the “centerpiece” of an estate plan will also need to name a Trustee who will administer and distribute assets upon the death of the individual. This is known as “trust administration.” Trust administration is not a court-supervised process, and there are a number of other advantages of trust administration over a probate proceeding. One important benefit of trust administration over probate is that the process is much quicker, allowing beneficiaries to receive their inheritance in a more timely manner. There is also a much greater degree of privacy in the trust administration process.
Generally speaking, a trust administrator will collect and inventory assets, ensure all income and estate taxes are filed, provide comprehensive accounting to the beneficiaries of the trust and distribute the trust in the manner the decedent chose. In many cases, however, there is much more to trust administration. Having an experienced Maine trust administration attorney can ensure the process goes smoothly.
What Does a Law Firm Do for Trust and Estate Administration?
A law firm may do one or more of the following tasks after the death of the individual:
- All legal documents and records related to the trust will be obtained;
- When third parties are being dealt with, the validity of the trust will be certified;
- Any money owed to the trust will be collected;
- Properties and other assets in the trust will be inventoried;
- All expenses and debts related to the trust will be paid;
- Investments and trust assets will be properly managed;
- Valuations and appraisals of trust assets will be obtained;
- Financial and tax advisors will be consulted when appropriate;
- Trust properties could be sold;
- Accurate records of income and expenses for the trust will be maintained;
- Tax returns for the trust will be completed;
- Beneficiaries will receive information regarding the trust administration;
- Trust income and properties will be distributed to beneficiaries; and
- Documents to transfer titles of trust properties to beneficiaries will be executed.
If the list above seems like lots of issues to take care of—it is! This is why many people choose to have a law firm administer their trust, rather than naming a family member or friend as trustee. Many of the trust administration tasks require specialized knowledge, and many steps are required to safeguard an effective administration.
Trustees Receiving Help from an Experienced Trust Administration Law Firm
When a law firm is not in charge of trust administration, they may nevertheless be asked to help the named trustee. It can be overwhelming to be a trust administrator, even if everything in the trust is clearly spelled out. Those chosen as trust administrators must be able to handle both people and money. While the money part may seem to be the more complex part of administrating a trust, in fact, it is usually the people who are a greater challenge.
Trust administrators are advised to communicate early and often with all beneficiaries of the trust. Beneficiaries may be anxious about their lack of control in the trust administration process, and even when the trust administrator is doing everything properly, beneficiaries can sometimes demonstrate a lack of support and cooperation. This can, in turn, make the process take more time and be more difficult. Trust administrators are required under the law to keep beneficiaries reasonably informed regarding how trust assets are being managed.
When there is transparency in the process, beneficiaries are typically much happier. It can be a great help for trust administrators to involve an experienced trust administration attorney in the process from the very beginning. The trust administration attorney can answer any questions regarding the trust as well as questions about the trust administrator’s responsibilities.
How We Can Help
Those who are contemplating setting up a trust and naming a trust administrator in the process should speak with an experienced, knowledgeable trust administration attorney from Hodgkins Law. Our Brunswick law firm engages in all aspects of estate planning, from the simplest to the most complex. We are dedicated to creating each and every estate plan to fully meet the specific needs of the individual and family members involved. At Hodgkins Law, we understand that each family is unique. We also understand that estate planning is not a “cookie-cutter” process; rather, it requires individualized planning and painstaking attention to detail.
The AAEPA membership Hodgkins Law possesses allows access to educational materials, software and other estate planning attorneys across the nation. Further, we have completed more than double the number of educational hours required of estate planning attorneys in the state of Maine. Perhaps most importantly, we understand that even thinking about estate planning can potentially be intimidating, and we want to make the experience as easy and comfortable as possible. Contact Hodgkins Law today for anything and everything associated with estate planning.