When your family suffers the loss of a loved one, emotions run high and it seems that everyone, or no one, knows what needs to be done with that person’s assets. Did they have a Will? Did they have a Revocable Living Trust? Was their home or their checking account titled jointly with someone? Did they have life insurance or IRA accounts? What should the named Executor or Trustee do now?
Executors and Administrators
An Executor (or Administrator) of an Estate, or a Trustee of a Trust, is called a “fiduciary”. As such, they have certain responsibilities and duties which are dictated both by state and federal law, and the documents in which they are named. These are not easy jobs. The beneficiaries of the Estate or Trust may be very demanding and want to know what is going on almost immediately. It can be even more challenging if the same person is both a fiduciary and a beneficiary of the Estate or Trust.
Because there are certain requirements, deadlines, waiting periods, and time frames in which certain steps must be taken, it is extremely important that the fiduciary begins the process of Estate and/or Trust administration as soon as possible, and with the advice of competent legal, tax, and financial advisors.
Seek Help Right Away
Too often, people will come to us 6 months, a year, or even several years after someone has died after having been “taking care of things” themselves, only to find out that it is necessary to now open a probate estate, or sometimes more than one probate estate, in order to finalize the administration and distribution of assets. Or worse yet, in some cases, they learn that they have done something wrong and there are beneficiaries, creditors or the Internal Revenue Service now pursuing them. Either of these scenarios can be avoided by getting help right away to be sure you are acting in accordance with the law and applicable governing documents. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
If you have been named as an Executor or Trustee, and would like assistance in meeting your fiduciary obligations in Probate or in administering the Trust, we can help. If you are not sure what to do with certain accounts or assets of your loved one who died, whether or not they had a Will or a Trust, we can help with that, too.
Kelleher + Holland’s estate planning attorneys will guide you through the process of administering the Estate and/or Trust, from the very beginning when the death occurs, to the very end when final distributions are made to the beneficiaries.