Orange County Trust Administration Attorney
Trusts are valuable estate planning tools that can help an individual maintain greater control over their estate, empowering a trusted representative to distribute the contents of their trust to their beneficiaries after their death. Unfortunately, the actual legal process of trust administration is more complex and detailed than many people realize. If you are preparing to begin trust administration, an Orange County trust administration attorney is a valuable asset to have to assist you.
Legal Representation for Orange County, CA, Trust Administration
The Flanigan Law Group has over 30 years of experience assisting Orange County, CA, clients with a wide range of trust administration proceedings. We understand the emotional issues that often arise during trust administration. This process can easily take months or even more than a year to complete when disputes and other unforeseen issues arise. So, whether you are a trustee trying to manage your fiduciary duties to the best of your ability or are a beneficiary with concerns over the trustee’s handling of your loved one’s estate, we can help.
Why Should I Hire an Orange County Trust Administration Lawyer?
Creating a trust aims to help loved ones avoid the stress, expense, and time required for the probate process. When an individual dies without any estate plan in place, their property and assets become “intestate,” and California’s law of intestate succession determines which of their heirs and beneficiaries obtain ownership rights over the deceased’s property. A properly configured trust can effectively allow the beneficiaries to avoid the complex probate process. However,a difficult and time-consuming administration process is required for completing trust administration.
Hiring an experienced Orange County trust attorney can significantly shorten the time required to complete trust administration after the death of your loved one. If you have been named trustee or executor of the deceased’s estate, your legal team can help you ensure you meet all of your fiduciary duties in a timely fashion. In addition, if you are a beneficiary with concerns regarding the trustee’s handling of the estate, your legal team can help you address these issues and verify that the trustee has faithfully handled their fiduciary duties.
Functioning as a trustee is an enormous legal responsibility, even for a seemingly modest estate. Therefore, it’s vital for anyone charged with the duties of a trustee to understand what this obligation entails and how to manage their responsibilities effectively. If you are unsure about any aspect of the trust administration process as a trustee, an Orange County trust administration attorney can provide legal counsel to help you approach the situation with confidence and provide ongoing support through every phase of the trust administration process.
How Much Does it Cost to Administer a Trust?
Trust administration costs entail two types of expenses: payment of the trustee for their services and payment of the estate’s debts and other financial obligations. Typically, these costs come out of the trust. Therefore, the trust should contain a clear section pertaining to the trustee’s compensation. For example, the trustor may state that the trustee should receive 2% of the trust’s total value after settling the estate’s debts as compensation for their handling of the trust.
The simplified process of administrating a trust involves paying all of the estate’s outstanding debts, handling the legal costs involved with distributing the estate’s contents, and finally distributing the remainder of the funds in the trust according to the trustor’s wishes. If trust administration requires legal representation, the Orange County trust administration attorney’s fee may also come out of the trust.
It’s natural to have concerns about the potential cost of legal fees when you realize you need to hire an experienced Orange County trust administration lawyer. Before agreeing to any attorney’s representation, make sure you clearly understand their billing policy. Your attorney may charge by the hour or charge a flat rate based on the size of the trust.
What Is the Trust Administration Process?
Trust administration is a multifaceted process. The complexity typically depends on the overall value of the estate in question and the nature of the property, assets, and debts included in the deceased’s estate. For example, a high-net-worth estate including complex assets and investment accounts will lead to lengthier trust administration proceedings than a smaller estate. However, even when a trust seems perfectly straightforward, and the trustee handles their duties effectively, substantial disputes may still arise without warning.
The first trust administration phase is accurately calculating the estate’s assets and liabilities. Next, the trustee must verify the contents of the trust, identify all assets and properties contained within the trust, and ascertain which debts remain the estate’s responsibility. The next phase is paying off creditors. Finally, the trustee must record all estate debts and use the estate’s contents to repay these debts. These may include tax obligations, unpaid credit card balances, and mortgages for real property.
After the trustee has handled the payment of all estate debts, the next phase of trust administration is the distribution of assets to the trustor’s beneficiaries. The trustor must carefully list all heirs and beneficiaries they wish to inherit their property. Then, the trustee is responsible for distributing the contents of the trust in accordance with the trustor’s wishes. Once the trustee has completed these steps and beneficiaries have assumed legal ownership rights over the property passed down to the trustor, the trustee can finalize the process and settle the estate.
Common Trust Administration Disputes
The trust administration process can also include estate litigation in the event any interested party files a dispute regarding the trust itself or the administration of it. For example, it’s possible for trust-related litigation to arise if a beneficiary disagrees with an element of the trust, believes the trustee has mishandled or embezzled from the trust, or if they believe the trustor created the trust under false pretenses or the influence of undue coercion.
A trust is only legally binding if the trustor had the legal capacity to create it, and they did so free from the influence of others, fraud, coercion, or forgery. It’s also vital for the trustor to ensure their beneficiary designations included in their trust align with preexisting beneficiary designations on individual accounts. For example, if they want their life insurance policy to pass down to their children in the trust but their ex-spouse is listed as the primary beneficiary on the insurance policy itself, this can easily lead to a significant inheritance dispute during trust administration.
Trust administration disputes may also arise when a trustee mishandles the trust. For example, a beneficiary could accuse the trustee of embezzlement if the trustee takes money for themselves out of the trust beyond the payment stipulations recorded by the trustor. Beneficiaries may also accuse trustees of failure to fulfill their fiduciary duties if they are negligent during their handling of trust administration obligations, such as failing to record expenses accurately or failing to pay creditors in a timely manner.
When trust administration disputes arise, both the trustee and the beneficiaries involved may require legal counsel to navigate these issues successfully. Therefore, your Orange County trust administration attorney may provide professional legal guidance through your trust administration proceedings or help you address more acute issues involving fraud, coercion, embezzlement, and disputes regarding beneficiaries’ rights.
What to Expect From Your Orange County Trust Attorney
An Orange County trust administration attorney can provide several valuable services and reliable legal counsel during a challenging time. Both trustees and beneficiaries may benefit from an Orange County trust administration attorney’s legal representation. For example, a trustee unfamiliar with financial matters may need legal assistance in fulfilling their fiduciary duties. A trust administration lawyer can guide them through these issues and ensure they fulfill their responsibilities in good faith.
Beneficiaries benefit from the legal counsel an Orange County trust administration lawyer provides when they have concerns regarding the trustee’s handling of the trust in question. For example, if a trustee has failed to repay creditors of the estate before incurring penalties or collection activities, the beneficiaries can hold the trustee accountable for these failures. An Orange County trust administration attorney may also be an essential asset if a trustee has knowingly engaged in any obfuscation, fraud, or other illegal actions in their handling of the estate.
Ultimately, an Orange County trust administration attorney can provide peace of mind and valuable legal guidance that help their client approach a very challenging situation with confidence. Flanigan Law Group has over 30 years of experience providing clients with trust administration representation. We understand the emotional aspects of these issues and how they affect the families of recently deceased individuals.
Talk to a Trust Administration Attorney at Our Orange County Office
The main goal of a trust is to limit uncertainty and help the family avoid an emotionally taxing and complex probate process. When trust administration fails to accomplish these goals, our experienced California attorneys can provide the peace of mind the family needs during this challenging time. If you have concerns about trust administration or believe your deceased’s loved one’s trustee has mismanaged their trust in any way, we can help. Contact the Flanigan Law Group today and schedule your consultation with our team to learn more about the legal services we can provide for trust administration in Orange County, CA.