Estate planning includes making future arrangements for yourself, should you become unable to handle you own financial/personal affairs later in your life, making a plan for who will be in charge of your affairs after your death and the tools that person will have to make the task efficient and cost-effective, and finally, decisions about dividing your assets between the people you love and the charities you support.
If you have been appointed as trustee of another person’s trust, this may be because the creator of the trust has become ill/incapacitated or has died. Depending on which circumstances apply, you, as the trustee, will have authority over the assets of that trust, and duties either to the creator of the trust if still alive and/or to the beneficiaries of the trust after the creator’s death. These duties apply to several task areas including: identifying and collecting trust assets, setting up proper accounting records, tax compliance, resolving creditor claims, liquidation of trust assets if needed, investment of trust assets, and distribution of the assets to the beneficiaries or to on-going trusts for one or more beneficiaries.
- Estate administration
If you have been named as Executor of another person’s will, or the person has died without a will (intestate) and you seek authority to administer the estate, you will need to open a court proceeding (probate). While that case is open, you will identify assets (inventory), notify creditors and resolve claims, sell and/or invest assets, comply with various tax laws, account to the court and beneficiaries/statutory heirs, and petition the court to approve a final distribution of the estate assets to the beneficiaries/heirs and approve any fees to be paid to you and your attorney.
- Estate litigation
- Trust litigation
- Trusts and estates