Whether you are considering establishing a trust as part of estate planning or you have been named a trustee by someone else, be aware there are rules you must follow when considering various aspects of these documents.
If you are devising a trust, you then serve as the grantor of your assets and must provide instructions about their distribution in the trust document. If you are a trustee, you will need to manage the assets in a formal process after the grantor dies. Both are crucial aspects of trust administration, as our knowledgeable trusts attorneys could explain. Our St. Charles County trust administration lawyers could outline your duties as a trustee and help you adhere to legal regulations.
Administrative Steps a Trustee Takes
A trustee has many duties once a grantor passes away. The first rule is to follow the grantor’s wishes, along with these basic trust administration actions:
- Identifying trust assets and make sure the trust owns them; otherwise, a probate estate might be necessary
- Paying bills that the decedent incurred before death and those that recur after death
- Determining the value of assets like income, capital gains, property, and estate taxes
- Concluding where assets are to be allocated – common destinations include other trusts, spouses, and charitable beneficiaries
- Retitling assets to sub-trusts or beneficiaries
- Applying for a taxpayer identification number (TIN) from the IRS by filing a Form SS-4, after a trust becomes irrevocable
Depending on the circumstances, a trustee may have to file a Form 706, a federal estate tax return.
Other administrative documents that a trustee might need to submit include Form 1041 to report income taxes, a Notice of Fiduciary Relationship form, and a Request for Discharge of Personal Liability. A seasoned trust administration lawyer in St. Charles County could help with assessing, assembling, and submitting all these important documents.
Challenges Associated with Trust Administration
Unfortunately, trust administration is not always as simple as in should be, since Trustees incur a fiduciary duty to administer the trust assets as intended. A fiduciary is held to a higher standard than a regular person and must act, under the law, in the best interests of the trust beneficiaries, subordinating all personal interests. This heightened responsibility means that if a trustee mishandles a detail of the trust, causing a financial loss, the beneficiaries can take legal action against them.
According to Missouri Revisor of Statutes 516.120, an action for breach of a fiduciary duty must be initiated within five years of discovering it. If a trustee needs help defending against allegations of wrongdoing, a dedicated trust administration attorney in St. Charles County could assess the situation and help protect their integrity.
The Final Stages of Administering a Trust
As a trustee, one of the last steps is to deliver the assets in question to the named beneficiaries. This helps ensure that the decedent’s wishes stay protected. Finally, staying in touch with beneficiaries throughout the entire process of trust administration is a key strategy because it gives them peace of mind that settling the grantor’s estate progressing as promised. Continual communication could help a trustee stay clear or disagreements or legal issues, as one of our trust administration team members in St. Charles County understands.
Speak With a St. Charles County Trust Administration Attorney Today
Trusts can be the perfect document for protecting valuable assets, but they are subject to a distinct administration process that requires careful oversight and attention to detail. Understanding the intricacies of trust administration is key, and this is where our firm could help.
If you are interested in creating a trust or were named as an administrator to one, do not hesitate to reach out to our office today. A St. Charles Country trust administration lawyer could answer your questions, resolve disagreements with beneficiaries, and help you respect a decedent’s wishes as you protect their assets.