When a loved one passes away and has created a trust, there will need to be a trust administration process. Administering a trust can seem overwhelming, especially if you have never undertaken that process before. If you’ve been named as a trust administrator by a friend or a loved one, you have a long road ahead of you. Even if the trust agreement is explicit and an experienced lawyer sets up the trust, every trust is different. You may encounter challenges to the trust agreement from beneficiaries.
Trust administration is a necessary but often complex part of the estate planning process. If you’ve been appointed as a trusted administrator, contacting an experienced estate planning lawyer will help you protect yourself. At DiVernieri, DiVernieri and Cotter, LLP, our estate planning lawyers have successfully helped many Staten Island area clients navigate the trust administration process. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you with trust administration.
Trust-based estate plans have become increasingly popular for their ability to bypass the probate process and offer various advantages. However, administering a trust can be complex and overwhelming, especially for those unfamiliar with the process. It's only when people become involved in the process that they realize its difficulty. Since every trust agreement is unique, seeking the guidance of an experienced estate planning lawyer can help you comprehend your fiduciary responsibilities and the trust agreement's terms. An estate planning lawyer can also provide legal advice and representation in case of legal challenges or other complications that may arise.
The process of trust administration is crucial following the death of one or both of the trust creators, also known as settlors. The trust administrator must carry out several tasks to safeguard the successor trustee and ensure the proper administration of the trust. Seeking the guidance of an estate planning attorney during the trust administration process offers peace of mind to trust administrators, assuring them that they are adhering to all legal guidelines.
Typically, the settlor creates the trust while still alive and names themselves as the trustee. Later, they appoint a new trustee who will be responsible for administering the trust upon their death. Trust administration encompasses the resolution of intricate estate matters and involvement in post-mortem income tax planning.
Trust administrators in New York have a responsibility to adhere to the terms of the trust agreement and fulfill their fiduciary obligations as trustees under the law. Trustees have various duties to perform during the trust administration process, including prioritizing the beneficiaries who will receive money or property from the trust. Trustees are required to act in the beneficiaries' best interests and not prioritize their interests over the beneficiaries.
Trustees also have a duty to provide beneficiaries with an accounting of the trust assets. If trustees fail to do so, beneficiaries may argue that the trustee engaged in inadequate or irregular distribution of the funds. Trustees must manage the trust assets legally and in accordance with the trust agreement. Beneficiaries can file a claim if they believe the trustee has mismanaged the trust or not fulfilled their obligations. The following duties and obligations must be fulfilled by trustees:
Challenges and disputes can arise during the trust administration process, even if the trust agreement is well-drafted. In some cases, beneficiaries may initiate legal claims against the trust administrator if the trust agreement is not clear or is improperly executed. This is where the services of a trust litigation attorney become essential. One common issue that may arise is a challenge to the legality of the trust agreement, with the claim that the settlor lacked the legal authority to create the trust or was coerced into doing so.
Furthermore, a trustee's breach of fiduciary duty can result in legal claims. Trustees must act according to the terms of the trust agreement and put the beneficiaries' interests above their own. Any failure to fulfill these duties can result in a breach of trust, which could lead to legal action. If you encounter legal issues or disputes during the trust administration process, it's recommended to consult with one of our experienced estate planning lawyers.
At DiVernieri, DiVernieri and Cotter, LLP, we understand that trust administration can be a daunting process for trustees, especially if they are already juggling other responsibilities. That's why our experienced trust administration lawyers work closely with clients in Staten Island to help them fulfill their fiduciary duties and protect their interests. Whether you need assistance with trust asset management, beneficiary communications, or tax filing requirements, our team is here to provide personalized guidance and support. Contact our law firm today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can assist you with your trust administration needs.