Estate and Trust Administration
The death of a family member, loved one, friend or associate is never easy. Not only is there an emotional loss, but also the affairs of the deceased loved one need to be settled. If there are assets titled in your deceased family member’s individual name for which no beneficiary is named, then probate is necessary in order to transfer title of such assets and to settle the deceased family member’s affairs. Even if all assets are titled in the deceased family member’s Revocable Trust, the assets must be distributed in accordance with the terms of the Revocable Trust. Often, the question of whether a probate is required is extraordinarily complex.
Legally, the Personal Representative named in the Will and the Trustee named in the Revocable Trust owe fiduciary obligations to both the beneficiaries and to the creditors of the Estate, including the IRS. These obligations are very serious as the fiduciary can, and often is, held liable for failing to properly administer the estate or trust.
If the deceased person owned assets having a value of $5,450,000 (for decedents dying in 2016) or more, then an estate tax return is required to be filed. Moreover, even if the deceased family member owns assets having a value less than $5,450,000, if there is a spouse, there may be advantages to filing an estate tax return, which if not filed, may be forever lost or waived. The law imposes deadlines for these filings, and the failure to timely file can lead to penalties or to loss of benefits.
The attorneys in our firm have substantial experience with administering Estates and Trusts and in dealing with the IRS. We welcome the opportunity to speak with you about the probate and trust administration process in your own estate plans as well as settlement of your loved one’s affairs if you are appointed as a fiduciary or named (or should have been named) as a beneficiary of someone’s Will or Trust.