At the same time you are coping with the loss of a loved one, you find out that the decedent named you as executor or personal representative of the estate, or as trustee of a trust. You will soon learn that serving in this fiduciary capacity involves a lot of rules, a lot of requirements and a lot of time. The law places great responsibility and duty on a fiduciary, including the preservation of estate assets, the ability to resolve beneficiary disputes, and probate and tax filing requirements.
In congruence with thinking that any attorney can write a trust, many people (attorneys included) think that once the document is signed, the plan is complete. This simply is not true. An estate plan is only effective if it is carried out. A revocable living trust, for example, does not avoid probate if the property is not retitled into the trust. And, even if the trust is fully "funded" at the decedent's death, there are normally some administrative matters to which the trustee must attend.
Our attorneys and staff at our Williamsburg, Virginia, law firm are experienced in assisting in all matters of estate and trust administration, from answering your questions to maintaining your books and filing required documents and tax returns. We commonly assist clients with the following:
- Qualification and bonding
- Probate tax return
- Asset inventory
- Annual accountings
- Federal estate tax returns
- Distribution of estate assets
- Deeds of distribution
- Resolving beneficiary disputes
- Estate litigation
Fiduciary Accounting Issues
Every probate and trust administration carries with it certain reporting requirements. Sometimes, the fiduciary must report to the court, and at other times the fiduciary must simply report to the beneficiaries. Different requirements exist for decedent estates and estates of incapacitated individuals. In addition, the fiduciary is responsible for ensuring that all tax returns are or have been filed and all taxes paid. A fiduciary who neglects this responsibility will be held personally liable for the payment of back taxes, along with any penalties and interest assessed by the taxing authority. Oftentimes, fiduciaries are unaware of these responsibilities. Unfortunately, lack of knowledge will not protect you. Our lawyers and paralegals know what the rules are and regularly advise clients and assist them in satisfying all of their fiduciary duties under the law.
Providing Exceptional Estate And Trust Administration Services
If you need help distributing a loved one's assets, handling your spouse's A/B trust, or dealing with any other probate or trust administration issue, please contact us at 757-969-1900 or by email to schedule a meeting at The Peninsula Center for Estate and Lifelong Planning.