The loss of a family member or loved one is typically followed by a period of heightened emotions and grieving. Understandably, the legal and practical aspects of the decedent’s death are not likely on your mind if you recently lost someone. If, however, you find yourself named as the Executor of the estate or the Trustee of a trust, you have a number of duties and responsibilities that must be carried out during the time period immediately following the decedent’s death. You will likely find the assistance of an experienced Trust Administration and Probate attorney invaluable during this difficult time.
At Levine, Furman & Rubin, LLC we understand the challenges faced by a first-time Executor or Trustee. Our experienced East Brunswick Trust Administration and Probate attorneys are dedicated to helping you fulfill your duties and responsibilities so that you can focus on grieving your loss.
Probate is the term given to the legal process that typically follows the death of an individual. Probate is intended to serve several important purposes. If the decedent left behind a Last Will and Testament, the individual named as the Executor in that Will is the person responsible for overseeing the probate process. During the probate process the decedent’s estate assets must be identified, valued, and eventually passed down to beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate. In addition, creditors of the estate must be notified and given an opportunity to file claims against the estate.
In the event someone challenges the validity of the Will submitted to probate, the ensuing Will contest must be litigated as well before assets can be distributed. Finally, all taxes owed to state and/or federal gift and estate taxes must be paid.
Many people choose to include a trust in their estate plan as either their primary method of distributing estate assets or as a secondary estate planning tool. While there are numerous different types of trusts that help achieve a wide range of estate planning goals, one thing all trusts have in common is a Trustee. If you were appointed the Trustee of a trust it means you are responsible for administering the trust terms. The duties and responsibilities of a Trustee are numerous and varied, including:
- Understanding and administering the trust terms.
- Managing and investing the trust assets
- Distributing the trust assets according to the terms of the trust
- Communicating with beneficiaries
- Resolving conflicts
- Ensuring that trust taxes are paid
- Keeping detailed records of trust business
- Making discretionary decisions if given that authority
A trust agreement can be as simple, or as complex, as the Settlor (creator) of the trust makes it. Even a simple trust, however, will require a significant amount of your time and attention to administer properly. Making a mistake, moreover, can be costly – both to the trust and potentially to you personally. The key to avoiding a costly mistake is to consult with an experienced trust administration attorney as soon as you are notified of your position as the Trustee of the trust.
The New Jersey Trust Administration and Probate attorneys at Levine, Furman & Rubin, LLC understand how confusing and intimidating it can be to suddenly find yourself named as the Executor of a Will or the Trustee of a trust agreement. Our trust administration and probate attorneys are committed to helping you successfully fulfill your role. Contact the team today by calling 732-238-6000 or by filling out our online contact form.