In considering the estate planning process, many people focus on the last will and testament. However, trusts are also an important option that can help avoid probate and protect certain assets. These estate planning tools are highly adaptable and can be tailored to fit your specific needs.
Although trusts can be a useful and critical part of planning for the future, they must be skillfully administered to avoid any waste or unnecessary taxes. If you are tasked with this role or are seeking guidance for your own estate plan, a Raleigh trust administration lawyer could help. By putting your estate trust in the hands of a seasoned attorney, you could ensure that the asset distribution process goes smoothly.
North Carolina law empowers a trustee to take any action allowed under the terms of the trust. If the trust document specifically prescribes an action, a trustee can take this step without asking for approval from the court. Given the significant influence a trustee has, state law also sets out certain expectations to guard against a breach of trust.
Every trustee must operate in good faith during the administration process. It is their duty to take every possible step toward the wishes of the trust creator as well as the best interests of the beneficiaries. This includes:
For a trustee to fulfill their duties, it is not enough to simply dole out assets as required under the trust document. They must also ensure any assets held by the trust are productive. This requires either making investment decisions on behalf of the trust or delegating that duty to a qualified third party. A skilled trust administration attorney could advise Raleigh residents on this part of the process.
At the beginning of the administration process, the trustee must compile and manage all of the assets held in the trust. This could include cash or other liquid assets, as well as physical property such as heirlooms or valuable art. It is the trustee’s role to account for all of the assets within the estate.
One of the most serious allegations that can be raised against a trustee is self-dealing. Self-dealing occurs when the trustee receives benefits—either directly or indirectly—from the sale or transfer of a trust-owned asset. Any time the interests of the trust run counter to those of the trustee, there is a risk of these accusations. Even the appearance of self-dealing could undermine a trustee’s ability to do their job. For that reason, it is important for trustees to keep their interests entirely separate during the trust administration process.
The requirements under the law are only part of the job of a trust administrator. In addition, a trustee must also handle some of the basic legwork that goes into the administration process. This starts with obtaining and compiling all of the legal documents involved in the trust, as well as the last will and testament. The administrator must also obtain any necessary documentation to prove that the trust document is legitimate.
Next, the trustee must collect on any debts and obligations owed to the trust. This could involve debtors or employers that hold money belonging to the trust. The trustee must then see to the debts and obligations owed by the trust through paying bills and preparing tax returns on behalf of the deceased grantor.
Finally, the trustee will oversee the distribution of assets from the trust to the beneficiaries. Although the process may seem long and complex, a persistent attorney could provide valuable support to Raleigh trust administrators from start to finish.
The process of administering a trust can be time consuming, even for relatively straightforward trusts. When there are complications or challenges, the administration process could take years to complete. If a trustee is slow to obtain assets, deal with creditors, or make arrangements for the tax bill, the process could be delayed even further.
As such, it is crucial to work with an experienced attorney to avoid these delays and other challenges in the trust administration process. By working with legal counsel, a trustee could ensure that their duties are properly and efficiently. fulfilled
Whether you are the estate administrator or are making plans for your own beneficiaries, experienced legal guidance is invaluable. A Raleigh trust administration lawyer could provide the counsel you need to ensure the process goes according to plan. To learn more, schedule an initial strategy meeting today.