Probate and Trust Administration
Probate is a court-managed administration process overseeing the disposition of an estate. It is a public proceeding in which a person’s assets and distribution plan are available for the public to review. For this reason and many others, we counsel individuals on probate avoidance. Realizing probate is not always avoidable, our team also assists families and personal representatives in the probate administration process.
When an estate does go through the probate process, our attorneys help document and secure the assets in an estate including personal and real property, investment accounts, insurance policies and retirement accounts. We help identify heirs, notify creditors, pay off debts, and prepare and file with the probate court the many necessary legal documents required to administer the estate.
To protect an estate from the probate process, our team regularly prepares living trusts. A living trust allows property to be transferred to beneficiaries quickly and privately with no court intervention.
When an individual passes leaving a living trust, our estate planning team works with the successor trustee to administer the trust. We aim to minimize estate taxes and other fees leaving more of the estate for the intended beneficiaries. We ensure that the terms and conditions our clients have instituted for the dispersal of their wealth are followed and their legacy is properly honored.
In both cases, our goal is to make sure that the wishes of the deceased are properly carried out and the rightful heirs receive their share of the estate as quickly as possible.
If you are a named corporate or individual beneficiary, have been appointed to serve as a trustee, executor, administrator, guardian or conservator and have estate concerns, we have the special skills to advise you. Utilizing our comprehensive knowledge of probate, procedural/ethical rules, and state and federal taxes, our team can handle concerns regarding estates ranging from individuals to small family-owned businesses and those concerning high-profile matters with significant financial stakes.
In an area potentially fraught with complex family dynamics and high emotions, our attorneys and staff will handle your concern with the utmost confidence and stand ready to assist you with:
- Issues of trust modification and reformation
- Claims/defense of claims of breaches of fiduciary duties by trustees and other fiduciaries
- Will contests
- Petitions for court instructions
- Interpretations, advocacy or defense of testamentary capacity and decedent’s intent
In addition, our team can also provide a thorough review of any existing estate plan documents to ensure they have been drafted in keeping with all applicable laws as well as state and national standards.