Estate Administration / Trust Administration
Typically, the person who creates the Trust, called the Settlor, Trustor, or Creator will also serve as the initial Trustee during their lifetime. For most individuals, not a lot changes while they are serving as Trustees of their own Trust. A Successor Trustee will step in only in the event that the initial Trustee becomes incapacitated or dies. The Living Trust document should name successor Trustee(s) and the order of succession for those Trustees. The Living Trust document should also provide instructions for how and when a Successor Trustee should step in and act. During this difficult time, the Successor Trustee must deal with complex legal, financial, and family issues that may arise in administering the trust. All Successor Trustees should consult with qualified legal counsel immediately upon taking over in order to assure that they comply with all legal requirements as well as properly carry out the terms of the Trust.
In general, all Trustees face similar duties and responsibilities, regardless of the size of a Trust estate. All steps in the administration of the Trust estate are more or less directed toward four objectives:
(1) Communication with beneficiaries and heirs;
(2) Collection and management of assets;
(3) Payment of debts, taxes, and expenses; and
(4) Distribution of the balance of the Trust estate assets to the named beneficiaries.
The task of reviewing the trust, gathering, and valuing assets of an incapacitated or recently deceased loved one can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. Anyone who acts as a Successor Trustee needs sound advice, experienced legal representation, and guidance. There are many pitfalls and traps for the Successor Trustee who attempts to administer a trust without qualified legal representation. Those who try may unnecessarily subject themselves to claims for breach of trust or breach of fiduciary duty.
Cannon Legal Firm’s Trust Administration services include:
- Advising the trustee about his or her legal duties, and obligations
- Explaining trust terms and provisions as well as procedures the Successor Trustee must follow
- Ensuring that proper notices are sent to all interested parties and organizations
- Assisting with identifying, gathering, and valuing trust assets
- Advising regarding proper distribution of trust assets
- Providing guidance and assistance in the sale of real property
- Providing guidance and assistance in the preparation of a trustee’s report and accounting
- Providing assistance with disputes among trust beneficiaries, between beneficiaries and the Successor Trustee
- Providing assistance in resolving disputes or defending trust litigation, if necessary
Read our blog on Estate Administration HERE
Read our blog on Trust Administration HERE