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Estate & Trust Administration

Estate & Trust Administration

Navigate Complex Tax Laws and Regulations With Our Expert Guidance

Estate and trust administration can be a daunting task without competent legal advice. Understanding that every estate plan comes from thoughtful consideration of a family’s future, we play a vital role in ensuring that the plan is faithfully carried out. We guide personal representatives through the complexities of settling estates and handle all document preparation required for probate. In coordination with the other advisors of the estate (e.g., accountants, financial advisors, etc.), when necessary or requested we also assist with the filing of the estate tax return that accurately reflects the estate plan and is compliant with the law. Similarly, for trusts, we offer valuable guidance to trustees regarding funding, distributions, administration, beneficiary communication, and compliance.

Frequently Asked Questions About Estate and Trust Administration

What is probate?

Probate is the state-operated legal process that occurs after someone’s death. The court oversees the probate process, during which the decedent’s will (if any) is validated, his or her debts are settled, and the decedent’s assets are distributed to beneficiaries in accordance with the will or applicable laws.

What are probate assets?

Probate assets typically include the following assets that are in your name (and not titled to your revocable trust) at the time of your death: (i) bank or brokerage accounts with you listed as the sole owner (which do not include a transfer-on-death or pay-on-death beneficiary), (ii) closely-held business interests, (iii) real estate without survivorship rights, (iv) automobiles (either in your sole name or with an “AND” designation on a SC vehicle title), and (v) your portion of joint assets without survivorship rights.

Can I avoid probate?

Yes, you can make transfers of wealth outside the probate process through means such as beneficiary designated assets (e.g., life insurance) or pay-on-death bank accounts. Even if your wealth is not in financial assets, and thus the typical modes of “nonprobate” transfer are not readily available, you may effectively avoid probate by establishing and funding a revocable trust. Please see our blog post for additional information regarding revocable trusts and probate avoidance.

How will my family know what to do when I pass away?

Well-drafted estate planning documents give clear directions on important matters such as how your assets will be distributed and who will be responsible for ensuring that your wishes are carried out. This is why it is crucial to have clear and valid (i.e., enforceable) estate planning documents in place before you pass away.

What should I do if I am named a personal representative or trustee?

If you are appointed as a personal representative or trustee, it is advisable to consult with an attorney and familiarize yourself with your duties outlined in the will or trust and under state law. As a fiduciary entrusted with the power to administer an estate or a trust, you will need to strictly follow the directions provided in the governing documents, act in the best interest of the beneficiaries, and comply with myriad other legal requirements. Having an attorney to advise you on these matters can be helpful in removing what can feel like a burden from you during the time you mourn for the loss of a loved one.

Let's Collaborate

Please feel free to contact us. We strive to respond to web-based requests within 1-2 business days.

Signs That You May Need Us

If you’re unsure whether you need an estate and trust attorney, consider these signs:

  • Have recently lost a family member
  • Have been named as a personal representative
  • Are appointed as a trustee over a trust
  • Are engaging with the probate court regarding an estate
  • Need answers regarding the distributions of an estate or trust
  • Are not receiving adequate information regarding an estate from which you expect to inherit
  • Need answers regarding liability in fiduciary roles

How to Get Started

1Contact Us:

Our dedicated staff will listen to your needs and direct you to the attorney who can best assist you.

2Schedule Your Consultation: An initial consultation will allow you to share relevant information and personal concerns with your attorney.
3Depend On Your Attorney: After your consultation, you will know both your next steps and the steps your attorney will take on your behalf to resolve your concerns.