Trust services, or trust administration, refers to the handling of your estate after you have passed away or are incapacitated (if you have created a trust as opposed to a last will and testament). Trust administration is handled by a trustee. This legal appointment can be made by the creator of the trust or by the courts (if no one is named or if the person who is named has also passed away). A trustee can also hired a lawyer to assist them with the administration of the trust. This can be beneficial if the estate is quite large and/or there is a great potential for contests to the trust.
Since the trustee is in charge of so much, you most certainly want to have complete faith and confidence that the individual will manage and distribute your assets in the most efficient and responsible manner. The trust will not pass through probate, so it is not a court-supervised process…another reason why you must trust your trustee explicitly.
The trustee should be well organized, objective and honest. Excellent communication skills and attention to detail are a must as well. You can see why these attributes are so important when you understand some of the duties of a trustee:
- Spreading the Unfortunate News: it is the trustee’s duty to inform all beneficiaries and pertinent organizations about the person’s death. This includes banks, credit card companies, Social Security Administration, the Department of Health, Veterans Affairs, life/health insurance companies, mortgage companies, etc.
- Handling the Details: until the trust estate is completely distributed, the trustee will be in charge of paying bills and outstanding debts, reconciling accounts, assessing/valuing the trust estate, filing/paying taxes, reporting gains and losses and any other trust estate details that pop up.
- Distributing Inheritance: the trustee ensures that all beneficiaries receive what is rightfully theirs as stated within the trust.
- Complying with Laws: there are many different state and federal laws that surround trust administration; the more in tune the trustee is with these rules, the smoother the process will go.
- Responding to Disputes: if any individual or company files a contest to the trust, the trustee will need to be ready to handle the legal issue. It may be beneficial to consult with or hire a trust attorney to help speed this process along and ensure that the proper procedures are being followed.
Sometimes these responsibilities simply become too overwhelming for the trustee to handle on their own. The trust may actually pay for the trustee to hire legal counsel in varying capacities. The Denver estate planning lawyers at Brown & Crona, LLC can assist with trust administration in Colorado and give guidance on how to manage certain aspects of the trust or handle trust litigation in Denver. Contact us at (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online to meet with our experts.