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A Brief Overview Of Trust and Probate Administration

Probate Administration

Probate arises in the wake of losing a loved one, whether that loss is a family member, spouse, child, friend, etc. Unfortunately, many people find themselves with an array of questions about their loved one’s estate, but a lack of answers.

This is where a probate attorney like Codi M. Dada can step in and help. We take pride in supporting our clients at their time of need by offering professional probate and estate administration services. One of our primary objectives is to lessen your burden during a difficult time.

If you are unfamiliar with probate administration, here is a brief overview of what to expect. Probate is a court-supervised legal process that administers the estate of someone who passed away. This process will be followed whether the decedent had a will or not. Nevertheless, probate administration is far less complicated when the decedent had an estate plan.

You should also be prepared to invest time and resources into properly completing the probate administration process. Why? Because probate is often quite time-consuming and can be complicated. This is why it is so important to have an experienced probate administration attorney in Marin County, California who can help guide you through the inherent complexities of this legal process.  

As mentioned, the probate administration process entails a variety of different steps, including the following: 

Steps of Probate:

  • Filing a formal petition to initiate the probate process
  • Notifying creditors and managing creditor claims
  • Inventorying the assets of the decedent 
  • Filing Heggstad Petitions
  • Making final distributions of assets to beneficiaries 
  • Formally closing out the estate

Trust Administration Service

Much like probate administration, the trust administration process is inherently complex and entails a number of steps that must be completed accurately and in a timely manner. In fact, there is virtually no room for error in the weeks following the death of a loved one who established a trust as a key component of their estate plan. If you incorrectly complete the terms of the trust, this could leave you vulnerable to liability, litigation, and a probate process that lasts months or years

Within 30 days of the decedent’s passing, you need to file the most current trust and any codicils with the county clerk. You must further file these documents in the county where the decedent lived at the time of their death. The core responsibilities of a trust administrator in California includes the following:

  • The trustee is obligated to act within the best interests of the beneficiaries of the trust.
  • The trustee is obligated to disclose material facts to beneficiaries and ensure they are reasonably informed about the status of the trust and the trustee’s actions.
  • The trustee is obligated to treat all beneficiaries fairly and equitably.
  • The trustee is obligated to enforce and defend claims when reasonable and prudent, even if those claims result in a financial loss for the trust.

While the above-described obligations may seem fairly straightforward, the legal ramifications and potential liability associated with each can be wide-ranging and severe. 

No matter the type of trust, formally initiating the administration process is extremely important because this action triggers the trust document to become irrevocable. Basically, once the trust document is irrevocable, it is the official legal representation of the decedent’s preferences and wishes as to what they wanted to have done with their assets and valuable possessions. This is why trust asset disbursements cannot be modified after this point without proceeding through a formal contest process in a court of law.

Once you get through the crucial first 30-day period, the deadlines and requirements do not stop. For example, within 60 days of the decedent’s passing, the trustee is obligated to alert any heirs and beneficiaries of the decedent’s passing and their legal rights as beneficiaries. The rights afforded to beneficiaries include the following: 

  • The right to request a copy of the document
  • The right to contest the estate. 

The trustee must inform the beneficiaries in writing as this triggers a 120-day timer in which they can voice their grievances.

Once notice is provided to beneficiaries, the trustee will then need to begin carrying out the wishes and preferences outlined by the decedent in the trust document. This stage of the process will typically include conducting a valuation of the estate assets, repaying any debts, and carrying out financial disbursements, investments, and property sales.

Furthermore, there may be a need to pay back taxes that were owed by the decedent, including state and/or federal taxes. In addition, you may be required to pay federal estate tax if the overall estate value is higher than the statutory exemption threshold. For people who pass away in 2022, the federal estate tax exemption amount is $12.06 million. For a married couple, the combined estate tax exemption is $24.12 million.

Ready to Take Action? Partner with a Qualified Estate Lawyer in Marin County, CA

Whether you need an estate planning attorney in Novato or a probate administration attorney in San Rafael, Codi M. Dada Law Offices is ready and able to help. Our legal team is comprised of experienced professionals who understand how to make the processes of estate planning, probate administration, and trust administration stress-free and easy to understand and execute. Since we work exclusively in the area of trust and estate law, our law firm has access to specialized tools that help efficiently and effectively obtain real estate information and specific legal knowledge more easily than other attorneys and law firms. We have the focused trust and estate planning experience to achieve your objectives in the most comfortable and cost-effective manner. 

If you are ready to take action, contact Codi M. Dada Law Offices today. We are ready to be your trust and estate planning law firm and will be there during the tough times to offer guidance on what to do, every step of the way.

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