Probate, Trust and Estate Administration
We can provide legal representation to help you perform your duties as an Executor (Independent or Dependent), Trustee, (or Co-trustee) or guardian. We can also serve in these capacities and have done so for many of our clients. A short recap of these positions in an estate plan can be helpful.
What is an executor?
An Executor (Independent) is the person proposed by you in your will to deal with your wishes and all applicable law. The official appointment of your Executor is made by the Probate Court upon presentation of your will for proof and filing at the Probate Court. An Executor’s function is to take control of your assets, distribute them, sell them, if necessary, pay your bills, deal with your tax liabilities and deal with the balance of your Estate for the beneficiaries in accordance with your will and the law. Your Executor should be an individual who is competent and honest. It is not necessary to appoint a professional or a corporate trustee as your Executor, although that may be advisable in some cases. A fee based upon the value of your Estate and the complexity of the matters involved can be charged and is agreed to in advance.
A dependent executor is required to obtain court orders and submit to the will of the court in acting to wind up the affairs of your estate. While ultimately effective, it is more time consuming and more expensive than independent executorships.
What is a trustee?
A Trustee is a person whom you propose to hold the residue of your Estate (assets remaining after paying your debts, tax liabilities, gifts and bequest and Estate expenses) in trust for a future purpose as set out in your will; usually to proved financial support for your children or other dependents until they are old enough to require no financial supervision. The Trustee can be the same person as the Executor, but is not required to be. Trustees are also eligible to be paid fees for the work done.
What is a guardian?
A Guardian is the person whom you propose be the legal authorized person to care for your children until they have reached the age of majority. They can also be in control of the finances of you children depending on your wishes and their capabilities. In other cases, they serve incapacitated adults in the same way.
A thorough review of the capabilities and time available of the people and entities who will occupy these important positions in your estate plan is advisable.