Trusts are an increasingly popular lifetime gift and/or estate planning tool that can serve a number of needs, including asset management during the grantor’s life and keeping assets out of probate, thus allowing such assets to pass directly to beneficiaries on the grantor’s death. With some types of trusts, the grantor may serve as trustee during his or her lifetime; with other trusts, a separate individual or organization may serve as trustee, managing trust assets during and after the grantor’s life.
A trustee administers the trust in accordance with the grantor’s intent, the trust document and applicable law. Administration of a trust after the death of the grantor is similar in some aspects to the administration of a probate estate, with one crucial difference: there is typically no court involvement other than filing the appropriate notice. How the trust is administered depends in large part upon the terms of the trust document, but most trust administrations proceed as follows:
- The trustee named in the trust document seamlessly takes over management of the trust;
- The trustee gives the appropriate beneficiaries of the trust notice regarding the trust;
- The trustee identifies, locates, gathers and secures trust assets;
- The trustee inventories trust assets;
- The trustee pays any legitimate debts and expenses of the trust or the grantor, in certain cases;
- The trustee manages trust assets according to the terms of the trust document, including, if necessary, sale or liquidation of assets;
- The trustee pays any state or federal taxes owed by the trust or the grantor, in certain cases;
- The trustee provides accountings and reports to beneficiaries as required by law or by the trust document; and
- The trustee winds down the trust when appropriate and distributes the assets according to the trust document—either in further trust or outright to the beneficiaries.
Depending on the intentions of the grantor of the trust, the trust may terminate soon after the grantor’s death, or continue for many years.
Experienced Trust Administration Attorney Serving Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia
At Wallace Law, we assist clients in the administration of all types of trusts, including irrevocable trusts and revocable living trusts which have become irrevocable upon the grantor’s death or incapacitation. Attorney Megan Wallace has a background in business law along with an L.L.M. in taxation, thus she is uniquely well-positioned to assist with the challenges of administering significant or complex trust assets.
Effective trust administration involves knowledge and judgment. Missteps may result in an increased tax burden, the loss of opportunity to preserve or increase trust assets, or an unintended violation of state or federal law.
Wallace Law evaluates the complex financial, legal, and tax considerations involved in administering a trust and advises clients of their obligations and options, so that they can maximize the assets available to beneficiaries while minimizing costs and expenses of the trust. We are available to support the administration of ongoing trusts on a long-term basis, as well as to assist with the administration of a trust after a death.
Responsive Legal Guidance for Trustees and Beneficiaries
Administration of a trust can be challenging, especially for new trustees or successor trustees who may be unfamiliar with the process. Trustees are fiduciaries, obligated to manage and administer the trust solely in the interest of the beneficiaries. Violation of this obligation, even an inadvertent one, can lead to losses for the trust and potential personal liability for the trustee.
The services of an experienced trust administration attorney are essential to making sure the trust is administered to best advantage without unnecessary delay or expense. Wallace Law is committed to ensuring that our trust administration clients receive the guidance they need and the personal attention they deserve in carrying out their responsibilities.
We invite you to contact Wallace Law to schedule a consultation regarding your trust administration needs. We look forward to working with you.