Losing a loved one is a very difficult and emotional process. The last thing that family members want to focus on is the possible financial mess that their loved one left behind. We strive to put our client’s minds and hearts at ease as we navigate as a team through the estate and trust administration process.
The first step in the Estate and Trust Administration process is to start asking the right questions. Some questions that you should be asking are:
- Does my loved one have a Will or Trust? If so, who was appointed Executor or Trustee?
- If there is no Will or Trust, did he or she leave any form of document or writing with instructions?
- What assets did my loved one have and where?
- Is there tension in the family or a black sheep sibling?
- Is there any chance that your loved one was taken advantage of in his or her last days?
At Hynes Law Group, if you have not begun asking these questions, we will ask them for you. We will work closely with your loved one’s financial advisors, accountant, and other members of his or her financial team, to aid you with the complexities in Estate and Trust Administration. Whether your loved one’s affairs are handled through the probate process or through a trust, we will guide you every step of the way.
Probate is the legal process by which a decedent’s estate is transferred to his or her heirs or beneficiaries through testacy or intestacy.
If a deceased person signed a Will during his or her lifetime, then the person is said to have died testate. A person who has not signed a Will during his or her lifetime dies intestate. In the case of a testate estate, the named Executor will petition the probate court to receive letters confirming appointment. In the case of an intestate estate, a loved one, friend, or other interested parties will petition the probate court, and an Administrator will be appointed and receive letters confirming appointment.
In our state, all probate cases go through the county in which the decedent died.
There are certain assets that do not go through the probate process and will be passed directly to named beneficiaries, or as designated in the document.
Here are some of the main types of assets that avoid probate:
- Assets held in a Revocable Living Trust will be distributed by Trustee per the terms contained in the trust document.
- Assets held in a payable on death (POD), transfer on death (TOD), or in trust for (ITF) accounts will automatically become the property of the beneficiary upon the death of decedent and presentation of a death certificate.
- Assets owned jointly with a spouse will automatically become the property of the spouse upon the death of a decedent.
- Assets in which the deceased owned a life estate, and a third-party owns the remainder interest will automatically become the property of the third-party upon the death of a decedent.
- Assets owned jointly with third-party, with rights of survivorship will automatically become the property of the third-party upon the death of the decedent.
- Contractual assets which are payable to a designated beneficiary (life insurance, IRAs, etc.) will automatically become property of the designated beneficiary upon presentation of a death certificate
Often, trusts (either created in a will or separately) contain highly technical knowledge and can be confusing. The first step in trust administration is for the trustee to understand the document as a whole and understand what fiduciary obligations he or she is obligated to follow. At Hynes Law Group, we can help you through this process.
In addition, unless a trustee has financial experience, he or she should seek professional advice on how to properly invest the assets. Not all trusts are created to last a short period of time. A skilled advisor can help the trustee to determine how to best invest the assets to best suit the purposes that the trust is being used for.
In both Estate and Trust Administrations, unless otherwise specified, the law requires that the beneficiaries receive an accounting of how the assets are managed from the Executor/Trustee.
Estate and Trust Accounts can include a wide range of assets, including cash, real estate, businesses, and investments. The preparation of trust and estate accountings requires professional knowledge and practical skills to create the comprehensive and precise financial records and schedules required of executors and trustees.
By outsourcing your fiduciary accounting needs to us, we can prepare the accountings in accordance with applicable laws, and help you to manage the estate and trust distribution process.
To schedule a free 15-20 minute consult to determine if our services can be helpful to you, please click on the “contact us” tab or call the number above.