When a person passes away, his or her estate must be administered, regardless of whether there is a valid last will and testament. Administration of an estate for which the decedent created a valid will results in a grant of letters testamentary, whereas if the decedent had no will, the process results in a grant of letters of administration.
In either case, administering an estate typically involves preparing tax returns, paying the decedent’s debts from estate assets, identifying and locating beneficiaries, identifying and assessing the value of estate assets, and furnishing an accurate accounting to beneficiaries. All of this must be managed appropriately before beneficiaries can receive their bequests.
As you might imagine, handling all of this following the loss of a loved one can be extremely difficult and stressful. At Cardinal Estate Planning, we can compassionately guide you through the estate administration process every step of the way to help ensure an efficient, timely, and economical settlement of your loved one’s estate.
For a trust to carry out the wishes of the grantor (the person for whom the trust was created), it must be properly administered. As with estate administration, trust administration can involve a wide range of duties and responsibilities, including the opening of bank accounts, settling the decedent’s debts, obtaining a new tax ID number, tax filings, arranging for the sale of assets, paying the decedent’s final expenses, and more. Accurate accounting must also be maintained and provided to beneficiaries.
A trustee (the person who administers a trust on behalf of the grantor) can face serious legal and financial consequences for improperly administering a trust. If you have been named as a trustee, do not take the decision to serve in this capacity lightly. We can explain the trust administration process, as well as the risks, and guide you from start to finish. We can also help you choose a trustee if you decide not to take on the responsibility yourself. In addition, we can work closely with your family’s other advisors to help ensure the directives of the trust are carried out to the letter.