Probate Will & Trust Administration

When a loved one passes away, the survivors typically go through a period of heightened emotions, including denial, anger, depression, and grief. If you recently lost someone close to you, the last thing you probably want to think about are the legal ramifications of your loved one’s death. If you were appointed as the Executor of the estate or the Trustee of a trust, however, it means your loved one is counting on you to oversee the probate of the estate and/or the administration of the trust. Given the complexity of both a probate will and the living trust administration, coupled with the grief you are undoubtedly experiencing, it is in your best interest to work closely with a probate lawyer from Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. to ensure that costly mistakes are avoided.

Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. represents executors and trustees who take on the responsibility of overseeing the probate and trust administration process after a death. We also represent heirs and beneficiaries throughout the process. To find out more about how our firm can assist you, give us a call at (775) 823-9455 today.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process that is usually required after a death to distribute the estate of a decedent. If you were named as the Executor of the estate, or you volunteer to oversee the administration of the estate because the decedent died without a probate will, you must navigate the probate process from start to finish. Although no two estates are exactly the same, there are several common steps you are likely to encounter during the probate process, including:
Identifying, locating, securing, and valuing the assets of the decedent.
Initiating the probate process by submitting the decedent’s Last Will and Testament (if applicable) along with a petition to open probate to the appropriate court.
Identifying and locating the legal heirs if the decedent died intestate (without a Will).
Notifying creditors of the estate that probate is underway and allowing time for those creditors to file claims against the estate.
Reviewing claims filed by creditors and approving or denying each claim.
Paying approved claims with available estate assets.
Arranging for the liquidation of estate assets if necessary to pay debts of the estate.
Defending the estate in the event of disputes.
Calculating and paying any gift and estate taxes due.
Effectuating the legal transfer of remaining assets to the intended beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate.

The Basics of a Living Trust Administration

You may also find yourself in charge of administering a trust after the death of a loved one if you were appointed to be the Trustee by the Settlor (creator of the trust). Many people elect to use a trust as their primary instrument for the distribution of their estate assets because assets held in a trust bypass the probate process. Consequently, trust assets can be distributed to the intended beneficiaries immediately after the death of the Settlor instead of waiting for the conclusion of the probate process. Parents who have a minor child also frequently add a testamentary trust to their estate plan as a way to protect the minor child’s inheritance because a minor cannot inherit directly from the estate of a parent. The fact that the terms of a trust agreement remain private, unless there is a need for litigation, is yet another reason why a trust may be chosen to distribute an estate.

If you find yourself appointed as the Trustee of a trust, and have never before served as a Trustee, the advice and guidance of an experienced trust administration attorney will be invaluable. As the Trustee, your duties and responsibilities will be complex and time-consuming. Your primary job as Trustee is to manage and protect the trust assets. You will also be responsible for investing and distributing the trust assets using the terms created by the Settlor. In addition, you have a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the trust that requires you to use the utmost care when carrying out your responsibilities as Trustee. Finally, you must understand and abide by all state and federal laws, including tax laws, that apply to the trust. Working with Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. is the best way to avoid costly errors during the administering of a trust.

Probate & Trust Administration Attorneys

Whether you are an executor, trustee, beneficiary, or heir, the Reno, Nevada attorneys at Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. are dedicated to helping you navigate the complex probate and living trust administration process.
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Beneficiaries and Heirs

Beneficiaries and heirs are also an integral part of the probate and trust administration process. Although the terms are frequently used interchangeably, they actually refer to two similar, yet distinct, classes of people. An heir is someone who stands to inherit from an estate according to the intestate succession laws of the state in which the estate is probated. For example, if your parent died intestate, or without a valid Last Will and Testament, only legal heirs of your parent would inherit from the estate. A beneficiary is a person, entity, or even family pet, named by the decedent in a Will or trust to inherit from the estate. If that same parent named you as a beneficiary in a trust, for instance, you would receive distributions from that trust according to the terms created by your parent.

When all goes as planned during probate, a beneficiary or heir should not need the assistance of an attorney. Unfortunately, things do not always go as planned. In fact, probate disputes are fairly common. If you wish to contest the Will submitted for probate, for example, you should consult with the probate attorneys at Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. right away to discuss your legal options.

As the beneficiary of a trust, you may also need the assistance of an experienced attorney for a variety of reasons. Just as a beneficiary has the right to contest a Will, you also have the right to contest a trust if you feel it is invalid for any of several recognized legal reasons. You may be concerned that the Trustee is not administering the trust properly or is failing to act altogether and wish to remove the Trustee. An attorney may also be able to help you amend, modify, revoke, or terminate a trust. The complexity of most trust agreements can leave beneficiaries at a disadvantage when a problem arises which is why you should consult with an experienced trust attorney right away if you have questions or concerns about how a trust is being administered.

FAQs

What is probate?

Probate is a legal process that will often come into play when assets are being transferred after someone passes away, which is why a Reno, NV probate lawyer is strongly encouraged. The probate court provides supervision during the estate administration process.

So a last will must go through probate?

If you were to create a last will, you would name an executor to serve as the administrator. This individual or entity would not have the ability to act independently. The will would be admitted to probate, and the court would determine its validity and supervise the proceedings.

It should be noted that assets cannot be distributed to the heirs that are named in the will until the estate has been probated and closed by the court.

How long does probate take?

There are variables with regard to complexities or lack thereof, but generally speaking, the timeframe would typically be between eight months and a year.

The waiting game does not sound very appealing. Are there any other probate drawbacks?

Probate expenses can be considerable. There are court costs, attorney fees, accounting charges, liquidation and appraisal expenses, and other incidentals. These expenditures reduce the amount of the inheritances that will eventually be received by the heirs.

Are all asset transfers subject to probate?

No, there are several different forms of transfers that take place outside of probate. These would include transfers to beneficiaries of individual retirement accounts and payable on death accounts.

Insurance policy proceeds would fit into this category as well, along with property that is held in joint tenancy.

Is there a proactive strategy that you can implement to avoid probate?

Yes, you could utilize a revocable living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan instead of a last will. Assets in the trust would be distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes after your passing, and the probate court would not be involved.

If there is no probate, how does the administration process work?

The terms that you set forth in the trust declaration are legally binding, so that is the inherent protection that is in place for all interested parties.

When it comes to the hands-on tasks, the trustee serves as the administrator. If you establish a revocable living trust, you could act as the trustee while you are alive and well.

In the trust declaration, you would name a successor trustee to assume the trust administration duties after you are gone. You could also empower this person or entity or someone else to administer the trust if you ever reach the point where you can no longer make sound decisions.

What “entity” can serve as a living trust trustee?

There are professionals that provide fiduciary services, and this can be the right choice if you want to be absolutely certain that the trust is properly managed. In addition to the money management and legal expertise, there would be no conflicts of interest, and no longevity concerns.
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