Providing Trustees with Assistance During This Difficult Time
Often, the successor trustee is called upon to manage the trust due to either the death or debilitating illness of the creator of the trust. The trustee therefore becomes burdened with the stress of administering the trust during a difficult and overwhelming time. At the same time the trustee is being forced to make critical decisions, he or she may also be in the midst of informing friends and relatives of the grantor’s death, making funeral arrangements, writing an obituary, closing bank accounts and paying off debts, and liquidating real estate or other assets.
An estate planning attorney can help make the entire trust process manageable by guiding you through the administration requirements and allowing you time to grieve the loss of your loved one. At The Sullivan Firm, our team understands the pain associated with any loss and will do all we can to ease it.
Assisting You in the Event the Grantor Becomes Incapacitated
When the grantor becomes incapacitated, ether physically or mentally, such that he or she is no longer able to handle the affairs of the trust, the successor trustee will be forced to intercede. The first necessary step will be locating and reviewing the trust document. You should then notify all beneficiaries of the grantor’s incapacity.
You will need a certificate of trust prepared, which is a shortened version of the trust that proves you have legal authority to act on the trust’s behalf. Depending on how the trust is drafted you may also need to obtain documentation by a physician of the grantor’s incapacity.
You should ensure the grantor is receiving the medical care required in a supportive environment. The health care proxy should be notified of the grantor’s condition, and physicians should receive copies of all health care documents. It is best to review the grantor’s insurance as well and garner an understanding of its limits.
The next crucial step is gathering a thorough understanding of the trust’s assets. You will now be responsible for investment of trust funds in a prudent and conservative manner. By utilizing a team comprised of at least an attorney, accountant, and financial advisor, you can make practical decisions on the investment of these funds. You will always want to maintain a careful record of expenses paid and investments made, as you may be required to send this information to the beneficiaries.
Managing a trust on behalf of beneficiaries is a daunting task, one for which you can be held personally liable. The assistance of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney is vital. At The Sullivan Firm, we have extensive experience assisting trustees in the management of the trust. We can help ensure your compliance with the terms of the trust and maintenance of the trust’s fiscal integrity.
Offering Guidance Upon the Death of the Grantor
When the grantor of a trust passes away, the trustee then becomes responsible for dispersing the trust in accordance with its terms. The trustee is legally required to notify not just the beneficiaries, but also the intestate heirs, or individuals who would inherit under Massachusetts law in the absence of a will or trust. You must notify these individuals of 1) the existence of the trust; 2) their right to receive a copy if requested; 3) their right to contest the trust within 120 day of receipt of notice.
The next crucial step is taking an inventory of the trust’s assets. The assets must be invested in a prudent manner if they are not to be dispersed immediately. You must make the trust property productive of income, and can be liable for failure to do so. Creditors should be notified of the grantor’s death and trust’s existence. Taxes must be filed and paid. It is critical that you keep an exact accounting of all bills paid and investments completed, as the beneficiaries will have a right to this information. You must treat all beneficiaries impartially and show no self-interest if you are a beneficiary as well.
If the trust calls for total distribution of the assets, you must so disperse the assets after a final inventory has been conducted and all bills remunerated. Distribution must be in precise accordance with the terms of the trust and may involve transferring titles and liquidating assets.
Administering a trust after the death of a loved one can be bewildering, time-consuming, and overwhelming. At The Sullivan Firm we guide trustees seamlessly through the trust administration process, allowing you to grieve the loss of your loved one without having to deal with unnecessary burdens.
Providing Trust Administration Representation Which is Next to None
At The Sullivan Firm we understand the daunting task faced by the often unwitting trustee. We will guide you through the trust administration process each step of the way, both simplifying the operation and ensuring your compliance with the terms of the trust, as well as Massachusetts law. You can reach The Sullivan Firm at (978) 325-2721. Click here to download a gift certificate good for one initial consultation with a trusted estate planning attorney (a $350 value). We look forward to providing you with superior legal services.