Folsom Decedent Estates and Trust Administration Lawyer

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Folsom Estates and Trust Administration Attorneys

When an individual is grieving the loss of a loved one, the details of estate and trust administration can be daunting. However, it is important to understand how the process guarantees the protection of your rights and that the decedent’s wishes are carried out.

Folsom Trust Administration Lawyer You Can Trust Call (916) 827-3427

The Reason for the Administration Process

When an individual passes away, a multi-faceted process must be adhered to and completed to settle their estate. For instance, the individual’s Social Security number must be retired. Failure to do so is the greatest means by which identity theft occurs. Consulting a legal professional who fully understands the process and the tools necessary to transfer assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries successfully helps ensure that everything goes smoothly and resulting expenses and taxes are kept to a minimum. Some of the tools these professionals utilize include probate, rights of survivorship, Heggstad petitions, beneficiary claims, and small estate affidavits.

The primary reason for administering an estate is to guarantee the orderly transfer of an individual’s assets when they pass away. This is true in any situation, whether it involves an extravagant estate or one that is very humble. This process is necessary whether there is a trust, a written will, or no estate planning documents at all.

When an estate is being administered, it is necessary to have a designated individual legally handle the estate’s details. This individual is known as an executor, a fiduciary, or a personal representative of the decedent. The executor is necessary because someone must be officially authorized to transfer assets and sign the decedent’s name. When there is a will (testate), the personal representative is called the executor of the will. If no written will exists (intestate), an administrator is appointed to see the process through. This personal representative is responsible for conducting an inventory of the decedent’s assets, locating and gathering said assets, and getting them appraised.

The Probate Process When a Will Exists

When an executor is named in a will, the first responsibility that they must handle is filing with the probate court that has jurisdiction in the place where the individual died. The court will determine whether the will is valid and settle any challenges that are raised through litigation. At this point, the executor is tasked with administering the estate according to the terms stated in the will. They must reach out to creditors and beneficiaries before any assets are distributed. The executor needs to obtain receipts and keep detailed records throughout this process to keep track of expenses and other items paid from the estate.

If there are claims made against the estate by a creditor, the executor must use the estate assets to pay off these debts. Taking an inventory of all the decedent’s assets, including those not listed in the will, is essential, as they must distribute those assets according to the state’s intestacy laws. Creditors, attorneys, accountants, and other costs that result from the probate process must be paid out of the assets of the estate, and the remaining amount distributed to the beneficiaries. The executor has the sometimes complicated task of distributing all a decedent’s assets according to their last wishes.

Settling an estate involves taking care of many specific details on an individual level, including the following:

Estate Asset Management

  • Gaining control. A fiduciary must gain access to all the assets that make up a trust or estate.
  • Personal property. Often, a decedent will leave tangible property such as automobiles, furniture, jewelry, artwork, and collectibles as part of their estate. In these circumstances, the fiduciary may need the help of a professional appraiser to determine their value.
  • Financial assets. Items such as bank accounts and securities that are part of an estate must also be valued.

Settling Expenses and Debts

  • Creditors. Unpaid bills are one of the responsibilities that an executor must handle when settling an estate. This includes determining expenses that have accumulated during the process and paying all bills.
  • Personal liability. In some cases, an executor may be personally responsible if estate assets are not properly protected.
  • Taxes. When an individual takes on the responsibility of settling an estate, one of their responsibilities is to file the decedent’s tax returns.

Funding Bequests

  • First things first. It is important to ensure that all expenses are covered before distributing any tangible property or cash to beneficiaries. This may include debts, taxes, and expenses that are incurred during the probate process.
  • Bequests last. After costs are covered, the executor must distribute the specific cash or gifts the decedent named in the will. Once this is done, any remaining estate assets may also be distributed.

Trust Administration

  • Understanding trusts. When a decedent has placed funds into a trust, the terms of the trust dictate the difference between the principal and the income.
  • Tax responsibilities. The trust administrator must provide each taxable beneficiary with an annual income tax statement, called a Schedule K-1, stating the income the trust earned. Filing annual income tax returns for the trust is also necessary.
  • Investments. According to their state’s prudent investor rule, the fiduciary who handles a trust must invest according to the terms of the will or trust.

Closing the Estate

Once the executor distributes all the assets and pays all the decedent’s final bills, taxes, debts, and expenses incurred while settling the estate, they may close the estate with clearance from the state and the IRS. Trusts may be terminated when a beneficiary reaches a certain age or when said beneficiary passes away. It may be necessary for a court petition to be filed to distribute all assets that remain and close the estate. Having a trusted estate attorney prepare a document that all beneficiaries sign, stating that they approve of the executor’s actions and receive their due assets, is highly recommended. Once the obligations of the estate are settled, the final step for the fiduciary is to file a final income tax return and set funds aside to pay the last estate taxes or expenses.

For further advice or help, contact our office. An experienced Folsom decedent estates and trust administration lawyer can ensure your finances are distributed as they should be.

Why Choose McCunn Law

Our methods for handling business owner divorce and family law issues are unique. We offer legal assistance for a range of family law cases, including:

Mr. McCunn specializes in a holistic, project management approach which empowers you to make your own decisions throughout the process. He has a reputation as a peacemaker and his honest and pragmatic attitude towards divorce and other family law issues ensures you only pay for the services you need during your case.

“McCunn Law is a high-quality and highly knowledgeable legal team. I went into a consultation regarding child custody and was extremely happy with the plan and ultimately the results of my case. They create a plan with the client’s needs and wants in mind. Drummond is also great working with regarding what kind of budget a client would be able to afford. If I have any more legal needs in the future this is the office I will use every time.”

Megan P.

“McCunn Law is a high-quality and highly knowledgeable legal team. I went into a consultation regarding child custody and was extremely happy with the plan and ultimately the results of my case. They create a plan with the client’s needs and wants in mind. Drummond is also great working with regarding what kind of budget a client would be able to afford. If I have any more legal needs in the future this is the office I will use every time.”

Megan P.

“McCunn Law is a high-quality and highly knowledgeable legal team. I went into a consultation regarding child custody and was extremely happy with the plan and ultimately the results of my case. They create a plan with the client’s needs and wants in mind. Drummond is also great working with regarding what kind of budget a client would be able to afford. If I have any more legal needs in the future this is the office I will use every time.”

Megan P.