A death of someone you love can be life-changing in many profound ways. As you cope with the grief of losing someone important to you, you also need to think about how family businesses will survive, about the impact of the death on your household income, and on what happens to the assets of the deceased. There are legal processes like trust administration and probate which are designed to facilitate the transfer of assets and the winding up of the deceased person’s estate, but unfortunately these processes are complicated and they can be messy.
Northern California Center for Estate Planning & Elder Law is here to help. We understand the rules which apply after a death and the legal steps which must be taken to transfer the deceased’s assets and manage the deceased’s affairs. We represent people who were named as executors or trustees, but we also represent heirs and other interested parties in Sacramento, Roseville, Davis, and surrounding locations. Call us today at 916-437-3500 to find out about personalized help we can provide to you and to get answers to common questions including:
- What is involved in trust administration?
- What is involved in probate?
- How can a Northern California trust administration and probate lawyer help?
What is Involved in Trust Administration?
Trust administration usually happens outside of court, and it happens outside of probate. It occurs after the death of the trust creator, who is called a settlor. It is the process designed to facilitate the transfer of the assets held within the trust.
The steps of the trust administration process are largely defined both by law and by the trust document. The trust document should specify when and how debts are to be paid out of trust assets, as well as when and how the property held in trust should transfer to beneficiaries. All trustees need to carefully follow trust document instructions and should get help understanding what the document requires if they are uncertain.
Trust administration will also involve gathering the assets which the trust owns, or “marshalling” those assets, and potentially putting the assets in the name of the new trustee. Property title may need to be changed, brokerage accounts, and stock accounts may all need to be changed from the name of the trustee (who is now deceased) to the successor trustee.
Finally, the trust administrator will administer the assets, distribute the assets to new owners, and determine how much to retain in the trust as a reasonable reserve. Asset administration may require liquidating assets, appraising and transferring property, and taking other necessary steps to care for the assets and to ensure a smooth transfer to new owners.
Conflicts can arise during trust administration, including disagreements over what a reasonable reserve is and disputes over whether the trustee is administering the trust in a reasonable time. An experienced trust administration attorney can help when a dispute arises and can also assist trustees in fulfilling their role so they aren’t at risk of claims against them by beneficiaries.
What is Involved in Probate?
The probate process is an alternative to trust administration for transferring assets upon death. Because many people do not create trusts or do not deal with the disposition of all of their property through a trust, probate is very common. Probate is overseen by an executor who is in charge of petitioning the probate court; notifying heirs and creditors; having assets appraised; managing assets; and facilitating the transfer of the property to its new owners. Use our Probate Calculator to estimate the probate fees for estates over $150,000, but less than $10,000,000.
Executors have a duty to manage the estate appropriately and should get legal assistance in doing so from a Northern California probate lawyer if they are not certain how to fulfill responsibilities. Heirs may also need help if they wish to contest a will or if they wish to make sure that the probate process goes smoothly.
How can a Northern California Trust Administration and Probate Lawyer Help You?
Northern California Center for Estate Planning & Elder Law is dedicated to providing compassionate, affordable, and professional help to family members and friends of people who passed away. Whether you want assistance protecting your inheritance, fulfilling your role as executor or administrator, or ensuring the wishes of a deceased friend or relative are respected, we are here to give you the legal tools and advice you need. If you live in Sacramento, Roseville, Davis and surrounding areas, give us a call today at 916-437-3500 or contact us online to speak with a Northern California probate and trust administration lawyer who can help you.