Losing a loved one is never easy.
But when you’re faced with settling a complex estate in the wake of a family member’s death, the combination of grief and uncertainty can quickly become overwhelming. Whether you’re dealing with the increasingly complicated state probate procedures, international probate law or charged with overseeing one or more trusts, administering an estate often seems particularly onerous during an already difficult time.
Smith Legacy Law provides a full suite of probate, trust, and estate administration services. We routinely provide executors, trustees, and beneficiaries with the experience-backed advice and counsel they need to ensure assets are distributed exactly as the decedent intended and in accordance with all applicable state, federal and international laws.
Your Partner in Probate
You may be surprised at the probate requirement in your state. Estates that contain real property or are valued at a minimal dollar amount may be subject to probate. However, certain types of assets may not be subject to probate in your state, such as property held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, life insurance, retirement accounts, or assets held in a living trust. We would be happy to advise on how the probate law applies in your state
Probate procedures help to prevent fraud by freezing an estate’s assets until a Probate Court confirms that the decedent’s Will is valid and that everything is in order regarding beneficiaries and creditors. The entire process is often time-consuming and labor-intensive. As your partner in probate, our attorneys leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help executors and heirs better understand these complex court proceedings and efficiently manage all aspects of the process, including:
- Initiating probate proceedings in the proper state and county.
- Proving the validity of the Will.
- Submitting required documentation to the Probate Court.
- Identification, valuation, and preservation of all estate assets.
- Ensuring proper notification of all beneficiaries, heirs and creditors,
- Ensuring all funeral expenses, taxes, and debts are paid.
- Distributing assets per the decedent’s Will or laws of intestate succession.
- Working with out-of-state counsel to initiate ancillary probate in other states when necessary.
- Representation in probate disputes and Will contests.
- Filing of federal and state estate tax returns.
Frequently, individuals will utilize one or more trusts as part of their estate plan, designating a trustee to manage and distribute all assets contained in the trust.
Exactly how the assets are to be handled depends on the type of trust and the specific rules and requirements set forth by the creator. When a trust is established to avoid probate and provide beneficiaries with immediate access to their inheritance, the trustee will be responsible for overseeing the transfer of all entrusted assets and property to the new owners. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to ensure that all assets are properly managed, appropriately titled after the creator has passed, and distributed to beneficiaries as the creator intended and according to all applicable state and federal laws.
Overseeing a trust is often complex and confusing. Our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys are available to assist in all aspects of trust administration, including:
- Drafting fiduciary appointment and resignation documents and managing a smooth succession of fiduciaries.
- Developing and supervising the implementation of a lifetime gifting strategy that is optimized to take full advantage of gift, estate and GST tax exclusion amounts in light of all applicable lack of marketability and lack of control valuation discounts.
- Drafting, reviewing, and filing all inheritance, estate, and gift tax forms.
- Reviewing and advising on trust income tax planning and tax returns.
- Assistance with distribution planning and structuring.
- Unwinding/terminating trusts that are no longer economical or advisable.
- “Decanting” dysfunctional trusts into new trusts with desired terms.
- Structuring loans and other transactions between trusts and related parties.
- Representing trustees and beneficiaries in all contested matters, including estate and trust litigation, disputed fiduciary accountings, and federal and state tax audits and controversies.
Learn More About Our Probate, Trust & Estate Administration Services
As your lawyers for life, Smith Legacy Law will act as your trusted counselors and advisors along every step of the probate, trust, and estate administration process. Whether you’re an executor, trustee, or beneficiary, our attorneys offer access to all the resources expected of large firms while providing a high level of personal service that’s generally only available from a boutique practice.
To learn more about our Probate, Trust & Estate Administration services, connect with Smith Legacy Law today to schedule a free consultation.
Contact An Experienced Probate, Trusts & Estates Administration Lawyer Today
Navigating probate, settling an estate or administering a trust is complex and can be overwhelming.
As your lawyers for life, the attorneys of Smith Legacy Law are ready to help administrators and executors minimize conflicts and ensure compliance as they work to meet their obligations.