When someone passes away, a representative steps into that person’s shoes to wrap up his or her affairs. This includes:
- Making an inventory of the decedent’s assets and maintaining them until they are distributed,
- Paying the decedent’s last expenses (medical bills, taxes, funeral bills, and other debts),
- And finally, distributing those assets.
When the decedent passes away with a trust, the representative is called a trustee, and this process is called “trust administration.” When the decedent passes away without a will, or with a will but without a trust, the representative is called a “personal representative,” and this process is called “estate administration.” If the decedent leaves a will, he or she will usually nominate a personal representative, and if the decedent does not leave a will, the probate court will select the personal representative.
Whether you have been asked to serve as trustee in a trust administration or personal representative in an estate administration, the process can be complicated. Trustees and personal representatives owe a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the trust or estate, and must be knowledgeable or well advised as to the complex rules of the administration. For these reasons, trustees and personal representatives often seek counsel to assist with the administration.
Whether you are administering a trust or an estate, we are here to guide you through the complex rules of administration and obligations of fiduciary duty, assist with the probate court process, and ensure an efficient trust or estate administration.