Administration of an Estate

Trust administration is a necessary process that occurs after the death of either one or both settlors. To protect the successor trustees, there are many things that must be done to ensure proper administration. Fortunately, working with an attorney for trust administration is a straightforward process that will give the successor trustees a great peace of mind throughout the administration.

There are many things to keep in mind such as the following:

  • Important dates to mail out letters and notify beneficiaries, state agencies, and debtors
  • Statutes of limitation
  • Recording processes
  • Payment of debts and taxes
  • Filing IRS documents
  • Proper distribution of assets

Who should help me with my estate planning documents?

Can I do it myself? Yes. It is possible for a person to do his or her own estate planning with forms or books obtained at a stationery store or bookstore or from the State Bar, if one’s situation is fairly simple. However, you should make sure that the materials you are using have been customized to comply with California laws. Each State has its only unique laws pertaining to estate planning. At the very least, a review of such forms can be helpful in preparing you for estate planning with a qualified professional. If you review such materials and have any unanswered questions, or your situation involves complex or unique circumstances, you should seek professional help.

Do I need a professional’s help?

It depends. If you do seek advice, keep in mind that wills and trusts are legal documents that should only be prepared by a qualified lawyer. Many other professionals and business representatives, however, may become involved in the estate planning process. For example, certified public accountants, life insurance salespersons, bank trust officers, financial planners, personnel managers and pension consultants often participate in the estate planning process. Within their areas of expertise, these professionals can assist in planning your estate.

The State Bar urges you, however, to seek advice only from professionals who are qualified to give estate planning advice. Generally, the professional must be licensed by the state to provide such guidance.

Ask the professional about his or her qualifications. Ask yourself whether the advisor might have an underlying financial incentive to sell you a particular investment, such as an annuity or life insurance policy. Such a financial incentive could bias that professional’s advice. Unfortunately, some sellers of dubious financial products gain the confidence and private financial information of their victims by posing as providers of estate or trust planning services.

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