When a loved one passes, family members and close friends typically go through a period of grief following the loss. If you recently lost someone close to you, the last thing you likely want to focus on are the practical and legal ramifications of your loved one’s death. If the decedent named you as the Personal Representative of his or her estate, or the Trustee of a trust agreement, you will need to find the strength to carry out your duties and responsibilities even though you are still grieving the loss of your loved one. Seeking the assistance of an experienced Trust Administration and Probate attorney will ensure that you do not make costly mistakes during the probate of the estate or administration of the trust.
At Sterling & Tucker, LLP we understand how difficult it can be to focus on your duties and responsibilities as a Personal Representative or Trustee so soon after losing someone close to you. We are committed to helping you through the probate of the estate or administration of the trust agreement.
Most people leave behind an estate when they die that consists of all assets owned by them at the time of death, including tangible and intangible assets as well as both real and personal property. Probate is the legal process that follows an individual’s death and that ultimately distributes those estate assets to the intended beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate. In addition, probate provides a method by which the decedent’s Last Will and Testament can be authenticated, or challenged, and by which creditors of the estate can be notified and given the opportunity to file claims against the estate. All gift and estate taxes owed by the estate must also be paid during the probate process.
If the decedent left behind a valid Last Will and Testament, the individual named as the Personal Representative in that Will is the person who will oversee the probate of the estate. If the decedent did not leave behind a valid Will, any competent adult can volunteer to be the Personal Representative of the estate and oversee the probate of the estate.
Administering an estate often requires legal and/or financial knowledge because of the complex issues that can be involved in the probate process. This is one of the many reasons why most Personal Representatives choose to retain the services of an experienced Probate attorney to assist during the probate of the estate.
A trust is often used to distribute estate assets instead of a Will because a trust bypasses the probate process. Trusts are also frequently found in other areas of an estate plan where they help achieve a wide variety of estate planning goals. Regardless of the reason for the trust, all trusts have a Trustee whose primary function is to oversee the administration of the trust agreement. If you have never before served as a Trustee, it can be an intimidating prospect given the various duties and responsibilities for which you will be responsible, 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
To perform your job as Trustee well, you must first understand the trust terms and then have the legal and/or financial background necessary to execute those terms. The best way to ensure that you will execute your role as Trustee successfully is to retain a Trust Administration attorney to assist you.
The Hawaii Trust Administration and Probate attorneys at Sterling & Tucker, LLP understand that finding yourself appointed to be the Personal Representative or Trustee can be a bit overwhelming. Our trust administration and probate attorneys are dedicated to helping people just like you. Contact the team today by calling (808) 531-5391 or by filling out our online contact form.