This office represents personal representatives, trustees, and beneficiaries in all stages of trust administration. If you need an attorney, or just have questions, please call for a free 30 minute consultation. We’re here to help you each step of the way.
With a revocable living trust (also known as a revocable inter vivos trust or grantor trust), your assets are put into the trust, administered for your benefit during your lifetime and transferred to your beneficiaries when you die. Trusts avoid the court procedure, called probate, otherwise required to transfer assets to a person’s beneficiaries at death. However, even though no court procedure is involved, that does not mean there is nothing to do. The trust makes administration easier, but it does not do away with administration altogether.
In both probates and trust administrations, assets need to be collected and managed, appraisals of assets have to be made, debts and taxes have to be paid, tax returns may be required, and legal documents must be prepared in connection with the distribution of the trust property to the beneficiaries. The major difference is that, with a trust, these tasks are generally handled privately, without court supervision, which makes for (in most cases) a faster, less expensive administration process.
There are some circumstances that may arise in which there are questions about whether the Trustee should or should not take certain actions (e.g., selling a business interest or real property, commencing litigation). In such cases, it may be advisable for the Trustee to petition the court for instructions whether to proceed in a certain way. The beneficiaries will be given notice of the hearing and will be given a copy of the petition that describes the proposed action.
The matter will then be addressed in open court, and the beneficiaries will have an opportunity to appear in court and be heard. By obtaining an order from the court in this manner, the Trustee may be able to cut off the beneficiary’s right to complain about the particular action if he or she fails to appear in court. Such a petition protects the Trustee if there is a fear that the Trustee’s decision will be second-guessed by a beneficiary. Also, if relations between the Trustee and the beneficiaries are hostile, it may be advisable for the Trustee to seek court approval of the Trustee’s accountings to minimize potential arguments with the beneficiaries.