Helping you handle one of life’s most difficult tasks
Brad N. Baker and the estate planning team at Baker, Burton & Lundy have earned a reputation in the South Bay and the Los Angeles metropolitan area for its dedication to providing quality estate planning and estate administration guidance. While many firms prepare estate plans and trusts, fewer actually administer them and settle them in court through a process called probate.
Attorneys at our firm believe that estate planning is only the first step in assisting our trust and estate clients. We believe that trust administration after death is as important as the initial creation of the trust. Since trusts play a key role in most estate plans, the administration of a trust is a central component of effective estate administration.
Trust Administration Expertise
When assisting clients in trust administration, our philosophy is to concentrate our efforts in areas that actually require legal assistance and leave the ministerial functions to others. We find that this keeps the legal fees down and also empowers the client at a time when clients often feel helpless after the loss of a loved one.
The concept of “fiduciary duty” is the cornerstone of trust administration. Fiduciary duty is the highest duty we have under the law. Trustees owe a fiduciary duty to the trust beneficiaries. This relationship between trustee and beneficiary can lead to interesting situations, especially when a trustee is also a beneficiary.
A common concern for new fiduciaries, such as trustees, is if their intended actions will be considered appropriate in the eyes of the probate court system. Our decades of experience representing trustees means we can provide seasoned insight into what a local probate court is likely to consider prudent for a fiduciary.
Additionally, because our team is experienced in both planning and administering estates as well as litigating trusts, we are more aware of potential difficulties and can avoid them through more insightful drafting. This minimizes probate court and other administrative headaches significantly. If you’re worried about probate and other difficulties, we highly recommend you consult an attorney.
Probate Administration: How We Can Help Those Who Did Not Create a Successful Living Trust
Often when a person dies without a properly funded living trust, his or her estate must be cataloged and distributed amongst heirs and beneficiaries in a proceeding called a probate. A probate is a Superior Court action to wind up decedents’ affairs. It takes about a year in most instances.
In a probate, the court action appoints someone who is then responsible for the decedent’s estate. This person is called a probate executor or administrator, and their duties may include identifying and accounting for assets, identifying and paying all debts owed by the decedent, and identifying and paying all tax debt, including income and death taxes. Any lawsuits involving the decedent or the decedent’s estate also become the responsibility of this person. They may also prepare a final accounting to the probate court, all prior to the distribution of the estate assets. Assets are distributed according to the will or California law if there is no will (intestate).
The expenses associated with probate are substantially more than the expenses associated with the administration of a trust. The delay in distribution from a probate is also usually longer than from a trust.
If you need to probate an estate, Baker, Burton & Lundy offers decades of experience in handling the technically complex and time-sensitive aspects of a probate. We are efficient and do our best to limit costs that will be deducted from the estate. We thank you for considering us.
Our Probate & Trust Administration Attorneys
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Contact us with all your Estate Planning legal needs today.
There can be a lot of busy work in probate and trust administration, and we pride ourselves in only participating in legal necessities to keep administrative costs down. If a client can get their tax ID number for free from their accountant, we point the client in that direction rather than bill additional time.