Trust Administration Lawyer
When a loved one dies and has trust, the trust administration process needs to be undertaken. There are administrative duties and expenses involved in the trust administration that families and trustees need to know and understand. This process may seem daunting for a person who is not well-versed in finance or law.
If you’ve been named as a trustee, you may need legal assistance from a credible South Portland estate planning attorney to help you discharge your trust administration duties. At Jackson & MacNichol, we provide a wide range of legal services related to estate planning and administration. We can assist you in creating wills, trusts, and powers of attorney.
We also provide legal representation in wills contests, probate proceedings, estate administration, and trust administration. We can help you navigate the trust administration process in Maine and ensure that you fulfill your legal duties.
What is a Trust?
Setting up a trust is one of the most commonly used estate planning tools. A trust involves a fiduciary relationship in which one party (the trustor or grantor), gives another party (the trustee), the right to hold title to assets for the benefit of a third party (the beneficiary). It can be used to transfer the ownership of assets from generation to generation with minimal difficulties.
Most families in Maine prefer to establish trust because it can reduce the amount of estate tax that must be paid, avoid the time and expense of probate proceedings, and govern the distribution of assets to beneficiaries. The distribution of the decedent’s assets can be quicker. Trusts offer many advantages over wills and can help families avoid the supervision, delay, and costs associated with the probate of a will.
However, establishing trust is not easy as it may seem. The grantor must create a trust agreement, a legal document that designates the grantor, the trustee, and the beneficiaries, and outlines how the trust assets are managed and distributed. A reliable South Portland trust lawyer can help you prepare the necessary paperwork to set up a trust for your estate.
What is a Trustee?
The person who distributes the decedent’s property is known as the “trustee”. A trustee can either be an individual, or a corporate entity (like a bank), named by the decedent in the trust documents. A trustee serves as the legal representative of an estate that will be distributed to beneficiaries through the trust. Until the assets held in a trust are transferred to the beneficiaries, the trustee holds the titles.
Being a trustee comes with challenges and risks. A trustee needs to understand the laws and regulations surrounding trusts as well as the basics of financial management. Therefore, it is highly recommended to consult a competent South Portland trust administration lawyer to ensure that you follow all required laws in administering the trust, and avoid potential liabilities and costly mistakes.
What is Trust Administration?
Trust administration refers to the management of a trust estate by a named trustee and the eventual transfer of the property held in the trust to the beneficiaries outlined in the trust agreement. The duties of trust administration will vary according to the nature of the trust.
Generally, when the person who created the trust (the grantor) passes away, the trust administration process includes taking inventory of the estate, filing income taxes or estate taxes, paying debts, and distributing assets to family and loved ones as specified in the trust.
Trust administration is a complex and lengthy process involving paperwork and court dealings. Since there are many steps required to ensure effective trust administration, it is highly recommended to work with a knowledgeable South Portland trust administration attorney to help facilitate the process.
What are the Duties of a Trustee in Trust Administration?
The trustee has a variety of duties and obligations. The trustee is responsible for gathering the decedent’s assets that have been placed in the trust and notifying the beneficiaries of the trust. All the trust assets must be protected and used according to the terms of the trust setup. A seasoned trust administration lawyer in South Portland can help you determine the roles and responsibilities of a trustee.
The trust administration process starts after the grantor of the living trust dies. The details may vary depending on the laws and legal practices of the state of death. Still, generally, the trustee must do the following duties:
- Obtain several certified copies of the death certificate
- Notify all trust beneficiaries of the trust’s existence
- Prepare the documents that establish the authority of the current trustee
- Appraise assets to establish the current value for proper distribution and tax purposes
- Acquire a statement from each financial institution holding an account for all securities or stock accounts owned by the grantor
- File federal and state income tax returns for the year of the decedent’s death
- Notify the death of the grantor to the Social Security Administration and all companies that issued credit cards
- If the deceased grantor was married, the surviving spouse might need to make a new will, a durable power of attorney for finances, a durable power of attorney for health care or make changes to the surviving spouse’s living trust.
- Transfer trust property from the deceased grantor to beneficiaries of the trust
Once the assets have been collected, the debts paid, the tax returns filed, and the liabilities fulfilled, the trustee should allocate the remaining trust assets. The trust document’s terms will dictate how the trust assets should be distributed among the beneficiaries.