Trust Administration Attorneys
Trust administration attorneys oversee trusts and ensure the assets are managed and passed to the beneficiaries according to guidelines outlined in a trust document.
In California, trust administration rules state that an attorney in this position has the legal obligation to work in the best interest of the beneficiaries named in the trust.
In some cases, the person creating an estate plan relies on a family member or friend to manage the trusts. However, it is also possible to hire a trust administration attorney to oversee the process. The advantage of working with professionals like those at the Law Office of Heath L. Baker is that they provide objectivity and understand the exact legal steps necessary for successful trust administration.
Will vs. Trust: Which Is the Right Path for You?
Wills and trusts are both estate-planning tools that you can use to pass assets to your heirs after your death. Wills provide directions for distributing your assets to your heirs after you pass away. Trusts, on the other hand, are legal arrangements that hold your assets while you are still alive and then pass them to your beneficiaries after your death.
The primary reason to use trusts is that they provide a more straightforward inheritance process. Since the assets are technically owned by the trust, your beneficiaries do not need to go through a probate process, which is necessary for every will in California. Even though it is often a formality, probate can take up to a year.
At the Law Office of Heath L. Baker, we can help you decide whether a will or trust is better for your inheritance situation.
Tasks Requiring Immediate Attention upon the Death of a Settler
Once the grantor, or creator of the trust passes away, the trust administrator has specific duties to ensure the inheritance process goes smoothly and is carried out according to the law and the terms outlined in the trust document. The exact steps may vary slightly depending on the nature of the trust, but in most cases, the trust administration checklist will have five steps.
Notification to Beneficiaries
The first step in the process is to notify the beneficiaries. In most cases, the trust administrator has 60 days from the death of the grantor to notify heirs about their inheritance.
Inventory and Appraisal
The next step is to take an inventory of the assets contained within the trust and to conduct an appraisal to ascertain their value. The inventory can also include any debts associated with the trust, which will need to be settled before the disbursement of the assets.
During this process, trust administration attorneys or other trustees are responsible for the property. For example, they will need to pay property taxes or vehicle registration fees if necessary.
Establish Trust Checking Account and Record-Keeping System
Trust administration involves a lot of record-keeping about how assets are handled when under the control of the administrator. A clear system for record-keeping is necessary for this purpose, and there also needs to be a trust bank account to handle any outstanding payments and manage cash that is part of the trust.
Trusts have some tax advantages, such as not being counted toward the federal estate tax threshold. However, before disbursement, the trust administrator must handle any outstanding tax bills, such as property tax.
The final step on the trust administration checklist is to allocate the assets to the beneficiaries. This step includes ensuring each heir gets the assets promised to them in the trust document. The administrator is also responsible for ensuring the beneficiary meets any conditions set out in the trust document before they receive their inheritance.
How One of Our Trust Administration Attorneys Can Help You
Heath Baker can provide advice on the legal aspects of your estate plan and serve as a California trust administration guide when it is time to execute the trust document according to your wishes. He understands that each situation is unique and requires personalized service, and trust, will, and estate matters are almost always settled during times of high emotion. As an objective trust administration attorney, Mr. Baker can handle the administration process so that you can have peace of mind and time to focus on your family and loved ones.
Why Should You Avoid Probate Court?
Thanks to years of experience with the Riverside Police Department, Heath Baker is intimately familiar with the court system. He understands that when it comes to issues such as estates, it is best to avoid court.
This is especially true with a probate court. Even in uncontested cases where the only requirement is to verify the will, the process can take months. If there are questions or challenges, the case can stretch on for a year or more. If there is no will, or the contents of the document are unclear, a judge will ultimately decide who gets the inheritance.
Trusts are tools to help avoid this situation.
The Roles of Administrators and Trustees
What is trust administration, and what is the role of the people who have this position? A trust administrator takes over the trust after the grantor passes away. Their primary role is to ensure that the trust document, which outlines the distribution of inheritance and requirements for allocation, is respected.
The probate court is not involved in trust administration in California, so the task of overseeing assets until allocation and carrying out the wishes of the grantor falls to a trustee or a trust administrator.
Trust administration attorneys and trustees cannot make decisions contrary to the documents that establish the trust. Also, they have a fiduciary duty to manage the trust in a way that is always in the best interest of the beneficiaries.
This requirement is why it is often worthwhile to pay attorney fees for trust administration. An attorney like Heath Baker can make decisions based on the best-interests requirement without having any bias toward one beneficiary or another. This quality is important when managing investments or making decisions about assets in the trust between the time of death of the benefactor and the final distribution of assets.
Contact Heath Baker Law to Speak With Our Trust Administration Attorneys Today
Contact the Law Office of Heath L. Baker if you need trust administration service in Riverside or San Bernardino Counties. In addition to understanding the emotional elements that often come along with trust administration and the probate process, Heath is intimately familiar with California laws governing the processes of trust administration and asset allocation to beneficiaries.