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Some Frequently Asked Questions about Trust Administration

What happens to a trust after the trustmaker dies?
Can I do the post-mortem trust administration without a lawyer?
What is the best way to leave property to children?
How do I get started?

What happens to a trust after the trustmaker dies?

A properly funded revocable living trust or irrevocable trust can avoid probate at the time of the trustmaker’s death. However, the trustees and successor trustees of such trusts have the responsibility to follow the instructions in the trust and follow state law. This is called a trustees fiduciary duty. Usually this means that the property and assets in the trust are distributed to family members or distributed into one or more new trusts for the benefit of family members. In addition, the trustee is required to satisfy creditors of the estate of the deceased trustmaker, file income and estate tax returns, manage and liquidate assets, provide an accounting to beneficiaries and generally wind up the affairs of the person who has passed away. We call this process post-mortem trust administration.

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Can I do the post-mortem trust administration without a lawyer?

There are many pitfalls and legal requirements when administering a trust and the trustee may be liable to beneficiaries if mistakes are made. We recommend that successor trustees hire a qualified attorney to help them work through all of the post-mortem administration issues.

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What is the best way to leave property to children?

Planning for children is an important goal for many clients. How you plan for children may depend upon their age, their level of knowledge and sophistication, their ability to manage wealth, and the size of your estate. Most people agree that leaving a large inheritance for teens and young adults is problematic. Therefore, many of our clients choose to leave property and wealth to their children in trust with another family member or institution acting as trustee, until the children reach a pre-selected age when they are old enough to handle the wealth. This age may be different for different families and children. Children can be supported by trust assets as directed by the trust instrument and the discretion of the trustee. Planning for children is highly customized from case to case.

One of the benefits of establishing trusts for children is to assure that the child is protected in the event of divorce. When your wealth is passed to a child in trust, those assets do not become marital assets that are subject to claims of a son-in-law or daughter-in-law during a divorce.

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How do I get started?

If you want to get started on your estate planning or find out more about us, you can contact us to schedule an appointment. If you think you need a probate lawyer, contact us by phone and we will set up an appointment. If you want to attend a workshop, you may call us for a reservation or make your workshop reservation. We hope to see you soon.

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Foley, Foley & Pearson, P.C. is a full service Estate Planning law firm. We offer our clients services in Probate Administration, Estate Taxes, Wills, Trusts, Disability and Incapacity Planning, Estate Administration, Corporate and Business Law, Business Succession Planning, and Planned Giving and Charitable Bequests.