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Most people understand that creating a will is essential for ensuring their wishes are carried out after they pass away. However, having only a will in place is not sufficient for avoiding the probate process. This court-supervised process of verifying a will and administering an estate tends to be complicated, expensive, and time-consuming, and beneficiaries cannot legally access their inheritances until this process concludes. To streamline this process and avoid unnecessary bureaucratic hassle, many people decide to create a comprehensive estate plan with an Indio estate planning lawyer that includes a trust document. A trust refers to a fiduciary agreement in which a trustor gives another party, known as a trustee, the authority to hold the title to assets or property on behalf of beneficiaries.
Although trusts are often associated with the rich, almost anyone can benefit from a trust, as these agreements are highly versatile. Trusts can serve a variety of purposes, including protecting your assets from creditors, ensuring these assets are distributed according to your wishes, avoiding estate taxes, and preventing your loved ones from undergoing probate and needing a probate lawyer. Consult the following information to learn more about trusts, then contact Bochnewich Law Offices today to secure the future of your estate with a trust.
What Is Trust Administration?
Trust administration is the process by which the assets held in a trust are transferred to designated beneficiaries after the trustor dies. When you create a trust, you will appoint a trustee to oversee the administration of the trust, identify beneficiaries who will receive the assets in the trust, and set forth specific conditions for how the trustee will distribute these assets to beneficiaries. After a trustee accepts their role, they take over legal ownership of the assets contained in the trust and become responsible for managing these assets. Trustees in this department are legally obligated to adhere to the terms of the trust document and have what is known as a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries.
Trust administration involves:
- Notifying government entities and organizations of the trustor’s death, including the Social Security Administration, insurance companies, mortgage lenders, banks, etc.
- Interpreting the intentions of the trustor and following them as closely as possible
- Understanding the terms and provisions of the trust document
- Creating and maintaining proper documentation for administering the trust
- Collecting all assets and transferring them to the trust
- Locating real estate deeds for any property titled to the trust
- Executing and enforcing the terms of the trust
- Keeping complete, accurate, and detailed records of all expenses, income, sales, and other transactions involving the trust
- Informing beneficiaries of their interest in the trust and regularly updating them with pertinent information
- Maintaining insurance coverage of assets, when necessary
- Filing income tax returns for the trust and paying applicable taxes
- Balancing the needs and interests of all beneficiaries, both current and future
- Treating all beneficiaries equally in the provision of the trust
- Mediating conflicts between beneficiaries
- Defending the trust against any claims that could cause beneficiaries to suffer financial losses
Do You Need an Attorney to Administer a Trust?
While an estate planning attorney is not required for administering a trust, an attorney who specializes in trusts can be a significant asset throughout this process. Trust administration involves a great deal of responsibility, and even seemingly minor mistakes can have serious consequences. Failing to adhere to your fiduciary duties can leave you personally liable for your decisions, particularly if you use the trust assets for your own benefit, make poor investments, cause damage to beneficiaries, or demonstrate a blatant disregard of the law in administrating the trust. The last thing you want is to be accused of misusing a trust and be forced to appear for court proceedings, and the only way to ensure that you do not unintentionally make a mistake that leads to this outcome is to hire an Indio trust administration attorney for estate planning.
What Does an Indio, CA Trust Administration Attorney Do?
If you are interested in creating a trust, a trust administration attorney can work with you to understand the different types of trusts and select the right one for your goals. They can assist in determining who you want to name as beneficiaries, how you want your estate to be divided and distributed to beneficiaries, and in what timeframe you prefer to have these assets distributed. A revocable trust allows you to make modifications during your lifetime as your circumstances change, while an irrevocable trust cannot be altered after it is created. You can decide to have your beneficiaries receive their portion of the trust in one lump sum, multiple payments over a specific period of time, or stipulate that they can only have access to the trust after reaching a certain point, such as turning eighteen years old, getting married, or starting a family.
If you have been named as a trustee, a trust administration attorney can help you understand your responsibilities in serving this role and ensure you follow all laws regarding distribution of trust assets. First, an attorney will meet with you to review the trust document, learn about your family dynamics, discuss your concerns, and advise you on how to proceed. They can help you notify local courts and beneficiaries about the existence of the trust, determine the value of the trust, and transfer trust assets to the designated beneficiaries according to state and federal laws. If anyone contests the administration of the trust, your attorney can handle trust litigation to resolve this issue promptly and effectively.
How Much Do Estate Administration Lawyers Charge for Trusts?
The cost of hiring an Indio trust administration attorney varies based on several factors, including the size of the trust, the complexity of the provisions it contains if the decedent has ever declared bankruptcy, and whether the administration becomes contested due to disagreements between the trustee and the beneficiaries. In most cases, attorney fees for the average trust administration case in California range from $2,500 to $5,000. If the trust becomes contested, this can add an additional $2,500 to $5,000 to the cost, even if the case is not litigated. You may also need to pay for coordinating appraisals to calculate the value of the trust, hiring accountants to manage trust accountings, recording deeds, or other tasks required to administer a trust.
Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer at Bochnewich Law Offices Today
Whether you are interested in creating a trust to secure the future of your estate or you have been named as a trustee for someone else’s estate, you should contact an Indio trust administration attorney right away for counsel and legal representation. Firm founder and attorney Pete Bochnewich specializes in trust administration and has an impressive history of obtaining the best results for clients throughout Southern California. Our team is dedicated to offering comprehensive, compassionate, and responsive legal services, and we are ready to help you navigate any trust-related legal issues with confidence and peace of mind. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.