At Eastman Estate Planning, PLLC, we often assist families or individuals through the difficult time of loss by assisting the administration of the estate or trust, both through trust settlement and through probate court when necessary.
A Trustee or Personal Representative has a difficult job making sure they properly handle the trust or estate on behalf of the beneficiaries or heirs. The reality of undertaking an estate or administering a trust is often overwhelming for an individual who is not represented by a skilled attorney.
WHAT IS A TRUST?
A trust is a legal arrangement that sets up an entity to essentially hold your assets. With a revocable living trust, you would generally be the trustee or manager, and you would also be the beneficiary during your lifetime. If you have re-titled your assets in the name of the trust, there is no need for a probate court administration when you pass away or lose capacity, because the assets aren’t held in your own name. The trust is written in such a way that you can appoint new trustees to step in if you lose capacity or die, and they would be the new beneficiaries upon your death. Essentially the trust is a legal entity that outlives you and has a lot of flexibility in terms of how you want to structure things for your beneficiaries.
Getting a trust set up can be emotionally difficult for many people. Once they sign the trust, they sometimes feel like they’ve done what they needed to do. However, there are still steps to take after the trust has been executed, including transferring assets into the trust.
HOW CAN A TRUST AVOID PROBATE?
The purpose of probate court is to determine what should be done with the assets of a deceased person. The probate court has a process to make sure that creditors get paid and that taxes get paid. Everything is done in a certain order and eventually the remaining assets are transferred to the beneficiaries or heirs. A trust avoids probate because your assets are not in your own name when you die; they are in the name of the trust. The trust will outlive you and have new trustees and beneficiaries in the future. When a person creates a trust with a legal professional, measures are put in place to make sure that a loved one can take over when the trust can't be managed by its owner anymore.
With a trust in place, your loved ones can be spared the burden of difficult financial decisions and court fees in their time of loss and grief.