Estate & Trust Administration
Guidance from a professional can help make the difficult task of administering the probate of an estate or a trust easier and more efficient. We guide personal representatives, beneficiaries, trustees, and additional fiduciaries through administrative issues in a variety of estates. Our experience includes working with estates that involve cross-border planning, business interests, and real estate. Trustees and personal representatives must act under a high standard of care. We advise these fiduciaries on how to preform their duties and provide assistance when asked, including serving as trustee for clients’ trusts.
- Administration of an Estate – The process of administering an estate is much easier with a well-thought-out estate plan in place, but even if the decedent left no plan, the process is the same and we can help the surviving family members to do it well. Essentially, someone or a group of people will be in charge of the estate, as the executor/personal representative, the trustee, or both. The people who manage an estate are called “fiduciaries,” and we represent those fiduciaries. We give advice on how to find and collect all of the decedent’s assets, how to keep the property safe, how to communicate with the beneficiaries, and how to fulfill all the accounting and reporting requirements for the estate. We can also perform many of the tasks associated with estate administration, easing the process for the fiduciaries and making it a smooth process for the beneficiaries.
- The Probate Process – Sometimes it’s not possible to completely avoid probate. “Probate” property incudes any property left in a deceased person’s name alone, with no surviving joint owner or individual beneficiary. Since there is no living owner to sign over the property, a court must get involved to appoint an executor or personal representative, who transfers the property under the court’s authority. Of course, court authority means there must be court proceedings, with all the delays, formalities, and restrictions you might expect. The probate process can be overwhelming when a loved one passes away. We recognize this and do our utmost to make the process as smooth as possible for the surviving family members.
- Estate Tax Return Preparation – A major aspect of our work is tax focused, with an emphasis on transfer taxes such as estate tax, gift tax, and generation skipping transfer tax. We take transfer taxes into account in both the design stage and the implementation stage of our clients’ estate plans. As part of this we regularly assist clients, trustees, and executors with preparation of federal and state gift and estate tax returns, including advising individuals regarding beneficial tax elections, post mortem planning techniques, IRS and state Departments of Revenue standards and procedures, and valuation of property to be included on the return. As a firm, we are constantly reviewing changes to tax laws and tax practice so that we can provide our clients with the most current advice and tax return preparation techniques possible.
- Trust Administration – Administering a trust for friends and family can involve surprising challenges, but in exchange there is the reward of knowing that you are carrying out the settlor’s wishes. Reasonable compensation is also available, of course. Trustees must manage assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries, make decisions about when and how to distribute assets according to the trust’s terms, and keep the trust’s financial records. Our firm can assist you in administering a trust efficiently by coordinating with you and other professional advisors, including wealth managers, and accountants. Our attorneys will review trust documents and consult with trustees about the performance of duties according to the trust’s terms.
- Trustee & Fiduciary Services – When a professional trustee is appropriate, many clients name one or more of the principals of Bove & Langa to serve as trustee. We serve as trustees of various gift trusts, including irrevocable life insurance trusts, and we are often named to serve as successor trustee in clients’ revocable estate planning trusts. Our firm does not custody trust assets or manage investments. We work with wealth managers and respected, licensed, insured financial institutions to hold and manage trust assets. We monitor the trust assets to be sure they are appropriately invested, we keep in touch with beneficiaries to determine their needs regarding distributions, and we keep all the trust’s records and provide accountings as appropriate. As estate planning counsel and as trustee, our firm serves families through several generations.