Setting up an estate plan is one aspect, but administering the plan when the individual or first spouse passes away is a separate aspect. The administration process does differ based upon whether it was a Will-based plan or Trust-based plan.
Probate administration is the all-encompassing name for the administration of one’s estate at death through the courts. This process takes place both where there is a Will and where there is no estate plan in place. It is the responsibility of the Executor or personal representative of the estate to make sure that the estate is faithfully probated. It is a complex process, and almost always requires the Executor hire an attorney to facilitate it. A good attorney will guide the Executor through the confusion and delays that accompany probate.
Trust administration generally describes the running and managing of a Trust from day-to-day and is handled by the Trustee of the Trust. Some of the Trustee’s duties involve managing the assets, making investments, and watching out for the best interests of the beneficiaries of the Trust. With all of these responsibilities, the Trustee will occasionally need to consult an attorney to ensure he or she complies with the laws and the terms of the Trust. This is especially true upon the death of the creator of the Trust. During this transition, the Trust will need to make several different accountings, all of which are made easier when a skilled attorney is at hand. Properly done, Trust administration is significantly quicker, easier, and less expensive than probate administration.
Goosmann Trust Law Counsel can assist Executors and Trustees in probate and Trust administration, walking you through the process as efficiently as possible.