Since 2007, Wiles Law has provided legal services, focusing on estate, tax, and business planning. With offices located in South Carolina, our law firm has helped countless clients protect their assets and preserve their legacies through our tailored solutions.
One area we focus on is trust administration. Unlike probate settlement, the trust administration process is faster and more efficient to execute. Any assets transferred to a trust while the grantor is alive will not go through probate after they pass.
The successor trustee is entrusted with the management of the assets until they are distributed to their designated beneficiaries. Usually, the trustee is a family member, friend, or trusted advisor. The trustee has a fiduciary responsibility to administer the trust according to the grantor’s wishes.
A trust administration attorney exists to ease the burden of individuals finding themselves in this role. At Wiles Law, we have a team of dedicated attorneys who can help you tackle the legalities involved, whether you are a first-time trustee or not.
Our legal professionals work to help ensure you have a basic understanding of trust and estate laws. Our desire is to equip you with the necessary legal and/or financial knowledge to make a sound decision and avoid costly mistakes. We hope to provide you with counsel that limits your liability exposure.
As a newly named trustee, it is normal to experience fear and doubt. You are not alone in this process. Our trust attorneys listen to your needs and concerns on matters related to trust administration.
Leverage our years of experience, proven competence, and excellent resources as you embark on the trust administration process. Consult with a Wiles Law attorney and boost your confidence in handling tasks, such as asset investment and distribution.
Four Best Practices In Trust Administration
Ensuring the Fulfillment of Your Fiduciary Duty
1. Document Decisions Thoroughly
No matter how skillful and impartial you are as a trustee, your decisions can be challenged at any point in the trust administration process. Ensure you can substantiate the rationality of your actions with supporting documents. Proper documentation helps corroborate your careful and objective decision-making over matters like distributing assets, investing money from the trust, allocating principal and income, and hiring legal professionals. In addition, document verbal communication with certified public accountants, beneficiaries, and other parties involved.
3. Communicate Well to All Parties
It is fundamental to keep the beneficiaries reasonably informed of decisions related to trust administration. In some states, you are even required to disclose information to certain beneficiary classes. Failure to do so can increase your liability exposure as a trustee. On the other hand, statutes of limitations also exist in many states, favoring trustees who make certain disclosures to the beneficiaries while informing them of the applicable limitations period.
2. Approach Asset Investment Diligently
Part of your responsibility during trust administration is the safe and prudent investment of the trust assets. Thus, it is imperative to set an investment policy guided by the Prudent Investor Rule statutes. Under this standard, the investment policy should include risk and return objectives, asset allocation, and assurance of proper implementation based on the allocation. Do note that the scope of your liability may change should you choose to delegate investment management to a professional manager.
4. Engage Competent Legal Professionals
The trust administration process requires legal and technical legwork. The average trustee may find these areas difficult to navigate if they don't have the correct background. This is where experienced trust attorneys come in and lend their expertise, offering professional guidance over the tasks and their respective deadlines. Take note that this step can be taken at the discretion of the trustee.
It’s done! For now any way. My wife and I finally updated and completed most all of our end of life planning decisions and legal matters including the Smith Family Trust, Healthcare Poxies & Access, Power of Attorney, etc. Huge shout out to Tripp Wiles, Alex Richey and everyone at Wiles McMichael, for their professionalism and help, great group of folks to work with on these important matters. I highly recommend them. –M.S.
It was such a pleasure meeting everyone at Wiles McMichael. I feel at ease by Wiles McMichael sharing their knowledge, compassion, and concern. – S.H.
It is a feeling of comfort to know the staff of Wiles McMichael are here to promptly come to our rescue when needed. We continue to thank each of you for your patience and guidance in making certain we have all our documents set up properly. – J.C.K.
The attorneys and staff at Wiles McMichael are OUTSTANDING! I will be forever grateful that they were referred to us to handle our family estate. They are extremely knowledgeable. More importantly, they are caring, sincere individuals that will have your best interests protected. – L.G.
Why Choose Wiles Law To Oversee The Trust Administration Process
Trusted Legal Guidance To Lower Your Liability Exposure
At Wiles Law, we understand how time-consuming the trust administration process can be, even if it is more private and efficient than probate. We are here to help you navigate the legalities following the death of a loved one. Our compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys assist you in administering a trust agreement and making you feel at ease as you and your family go through this complex time.
Ideally, the settlor of the trust works with an estate planning lawyer to inform the trustee about the appointment. As your family’s go-to advisor, we can walk you through the rigors of your role and responsibility. We are here to answer your questions, set expectations, and ease your doubts regarding the management and administration of the trust if you are both an heir and a trustee.
Solid Legal Support
Trustees are expected to execute the grantor’s wishes – an immense responsibility. Working with our proficient team provides you with the necessary support to successfully carry out the trust terms and other aspects of your fiduciary duty. You can tap our extensive industry experience for a range of tasks, from asset distribution and communication with accountants to mediating between beneficiaries, as needed.
Trusts do not last forever, but it can take a few years before the end because of certain circumstances, such as waiting for one beneficiary to reach a certain age. During this period, you as the trustee must make sound decisions for both the assets and beneficiaries. Consider using Wiles Law trust lawyers to receive supervision in areas like interpretation of trust terms, protection from legal attacks and minimizing beneficiary-related conflicts and complaints.
No two trusts are the same regarding the terms, types, and tasks that trustees need to perform. Seek guidance from a competent trust administration attorney to ensure you don’t miss any deadline or skip any task. You can count on Wiles Law to cover all the bases while also taking the time to explain the specifics of your responsibilities, including protecting the trust assets, understanding the terms, and distributing the funds to the beneficiaries.
Even if the decedent’s trust is relatively modest, you may have to deal with a long list of tasks to fulfill. To succeed and avoid being accused of negligence toward your fiduciary duty, you need a trust administration attorney to explain the applicable law and rules in a clear manner. They should also be able to communicate with you the next steps, so you can administer the trust correctly.