The administration of an estate and trust administration have in common moving financial parts than you might not expect. There are, however, different hard and fast rules governing each.
While estate administration deals with the distribution of assets as stipulated in a Will; trust administration covers assets placed in trust by a grantor for named beneficiaries.
After a trust maker (grantor) dies, the person who has been appointed trustee has the job of administering the trust. The appointed trustee is responsible for managing trust assets and distributing them according to the instructions contained in the trust agreement. It is a complicated legal process that must be followed to the letter.
Trust administration is generally handled by a professional trust administration attorney or law firm with extensive experience in assisting trustees through this highly technical legal process.
What are the Duties of a Trust Administrator?
- Settle debts
- Pay taxes owned
- Transfer property titles
- Collection, management, investment, and distribution of trust assets
- Present detailed records when required
- Prepare accounting and inventory lists and possibly obtain property appraisals
- Preparation of tax returns (706) and (1041), and possibly a fiduciary tax return if required
When a person dies the distribution of their assets, as spelled out in their Will, falls to whoever is named executor. As with trust administration, it is wise for an inexperienced executor to seek the advice of an attorney to be sure all legal administrative requirements have been met. Many of the duties overlap with those required of trust administrators.
- What are the duties of an Estate Administrator?
- File the Will – requires petitioning the probate court to be appointed executor.
- Marshaling, or collecting, the assets. Take inventory of all assets and file with the probate court.
- Pay bills from a single checking account set up by the executor or one set up by an attorney.
- Pay taxes owed.
- File tax returns if required.
- Distribute property to the heirs and legatees.
- File a final account with the probate court.
Some of these steps can be eliminated by avoiding probate through joint ownership or trusts. This is done during the estate planning process and may be suggested by the estate planning attorney. Whoever is left in charge is legally responsible for paying debts, filing tax returns (if required), and distributing property to the rightful heirs. Help your executor. Shorten the process and reduce legal bills. Keep good records of your assets, liabilities, and any documentation that will help speed the process.
What if Estates are Contested?
No matter how well prepared, there is always the chance that some family member or other entity will contest a will or trust agreement. Though wills and trusts are separate documents, both should be drawn up as part of a unified estate plan. No administrator wants to be faced with a contested legacy.
Contact Our Office Today!
No matter how small or large the estate, an experienced estate attorney can reduce the likelihood of this happening. Be sure your hard-earned assets get distributed to loved ones or other deserving entities according to your wishes. Call the estate planning experts at The Voeller Law Firm now. The Voeller Law Firm, located at 19311, FM 2252, Suite 103, San Antonio, Texas 78266. (210) 651-3851