Trust Administration Lawyer
Competent & Compassionate Probate & Trust Administration Services
When an individual passes away, his or her estate may need to go through an estate administration process that could take the form of a court-managed process called probate, a non-court managed process under a trust called trust administration, a small estate procedure called a small estate affidavit, a non-probate transfer of real estate called a bond in lieu of probate or a combination of two or more of these processes. In these estate administration situations, the court, an executor, an administrator, a trustee or other representative could be responsible for administering expenses, managing and/or selling assets and distributing the decedent’s assets to the beneficiaries entitled to receive them. A variety of facts and circumstances factor into what type of estate administration process may be necessary based on the type of the assets the decedent owned at the time of his or her death and the type of estate plan (if any) that the decedent had in place. By consulting our trust administration lawyer at MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle, Ltd. , you will receive a thorough examination of your situation along with recommended approaches and solutions.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process of transferring the title to assets held in the decedent’s name alone with no designated beneficiary or beneficiaries. Every probate estate is unique, but most involve the following steps:
- Filing of a petition with the proper probate court;
- Notice to heirs under the will or to statutory heirs (if no will exists);
- Petition to appoint Executor (in the case of a will) or administrator for the estate;
- Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by executor/administrator;
- Payment of estate debt to rightful creditors (for a minimum required period of 6 months);
- Sale of estate assets;
- Payment of estate taxes, if applicable;
- Final distribution of assets to heirs; and
- Payment of income taxes, if applicable.
The estate reimburses executors for all legitimate out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the process of managing and distributing the estate. In addition, executors are entitled to reasonable fees for services rendered which must be approved by the beneficiaries and the court, which vary based on the probate estate’s size. The executor must fulfill his or her fiduciary duties on behalf of the estate with the highest degree of integrity, and the probate court can hold him or her liable if he or she mismanages estate assets. We always advise that the executor retain legal counsel and an accountant to advise and assist him or her. Our lawyers are familiar with the issues executors face, and we know what is necessary to avoid conflict with an estate’s beneficiaries.
What is Trust Administration?
Another way our attorneys can help you plan for the future is through trust administration.
A trust is a legal entity used to hold legal title to property for the benefit of one or more persons. It is a widely used method of setting aside assets for beneficiaries. Through trust administration, your assets are managed so that their value is protected and preserved for your intended beneficiaries. Proper trust administration can help pay off current debts and ensure the trust’s security and prosperity.
Sometimes, probate involves more than the process of marshaling and distributing assets. When disputes arise concerning debts, testator intent or intended beneficiaries, our lawyers will defend your interests. These disputes can be highly contentious and emotionally charged. Our trust administration lawyer is well versed in contested probate. We will guide you through the process as efficiently as possible to help ease emotional conflict.
If you would like to build a relationship with a law firm that provides high quality legal services, or if you have a question related to probate, estate planning or trust administration, please contact a trust administration lawyer at MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle, Ltd. to make an appointment for an initial consultation. We will work with you to help you seek the best possible resolution for your estate.