Trust Administration Lawyer Missouri
A Missouri trust administration lawyer knows that many people put off making their estate plans because they don’t want to really think about the day when they are no longer there for their family. But that is actually one of the most important reasons for making your estate plan – to ensure that your loved ones will be financially secure after you pass.
Two of the most popular estate planning tools are wills and trusts. Some people think that all they need to have is a will, however, also utilizing trusts can provide several benefits. At Legacy Law Center, we use multiple estate planning tools for our clients, including different types of trusts. The following is an overview of the benefits of using trusts. Call our office for more detailed information.
One of the most common reasons why clients choose trusts is that the contents of a trust are not required to go through the probate process like the contents of a will. The assets and property cited in a will that is to be distributed to beneficiaries are required to go through the probate process.
This process is where the will is filed with the court (after the person dies) and the court decides the validity of the will. During the probate process, anyone who thinks they have a claim to the estate can file legal motions to contest the will.
Once the court declares the will is valid or parties contesting the will have valid claims, then the contents of the estate can be distributed. This process can take approximately a year.
As a Missouri trust administration lawyer can explain, since the contents of a trust are not required to go through probate, beneficiaries receive the contents immediately upon your death, unless you specify other stipulations.
The will and probate process also becomes public record that anyone can access and see what is included in your estate. A trust is completely private.
Protecting Your Children
A will is the instrument where a parent names who they want to be their minor child’s legal guardian should they die. To ensure their child is financially protected, a parent can also set up a trust that can be used to care for the child’s needs. In some cases, you may not want the person who will be your child’s legal guardian to be the same person to control these funds. For example, if you are divorced from your child’s other parent, you may not trust your ex to have full access to these funds. Instead, you can name a trusted family member or friend to be the trustee. You can also name a trust administration lawyer, as well.
Contact Our Estate Planning Law Firm for Legal Assistance
If you would like to learn more about trusts, wills, and other estate planning tools, a Missouri trust administration lawyer can help. Call Legacy Law Center to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
Checklist For Trust Administration in Missouri
Trust administration in Missouri can be an intimidating process, which is why you may need a Missouri trust administration lawyer you can rely on. Often trustees know the trustor well and are beginning the trust administration process while also grieving and so it can also be emotionally difficult as well.
Here is a checklist of steps to take to administer a living trust in Missouri.
Find The Trust And Other Estate Plan Documents
If you have the documents already you can obviously move ahead, but too often trustees do not have a copy of the trust and will documents. The Trustor or Grantor will often have these documents in their home with other important papers such as birth certificates, marriage licenses and deeds.
Read The Trust
A successor trustee must immediately read the entire trust and make sure they understand what assets are included, who the beneficiaries are and what provisions in the trust may be of immediate concern.
Hire A Missouri Trust Administration Attorney
Mistakes can be avoided by a trustee by hiring a Missouri trust administration lawyer. The trust lawyer can review the documents with you, assist with the administration and help formulate a plan to carry out the trustor’s wishes.
Create A List of Trust Assets
It’s important to know what assets are owned by the trust and to determine if any assets must be probated because they were left out of the trust. The Missouri pour over will document assists in making sure that all assets, whether or not they are initially held by the trust after the death of the trustor, are added to the trust and distributed or held according to its terms.
Obtain a Tax Identification Number Through the IRS
Upon the death of the trustor, a Missouri living trust becomes irrevocable and therefore requires a Tax Identification Number (TIN, also referred to as an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for taxation purposes. Your trust attorney can help you obtain this TIN through the IRS.
Open Or Access A Trust Bank Account
With the TIN in hand, the death certificate of the trustor and the trust document, you can open a Missouri trust bank account or, if one is already in existence at the trustor’s death, gain access to that account as successor trustee.
Speak To All Beneficiaries
The trust beneficiaries should be contacted via written communication and notified that you are the trustee and will be handling the administration of the trust. Often the importance of a Missouri trust administration lawyer really comes into focus during this step as beneficiaries are often impatient, unfairly critical of the trustee or the trustor’s decisions in the trust or, just as often, assuming you’re going to rip them off.
Communicating with beneficiaries is not only a central role of a trustee, but poor communication is often the number one issue that causes problems during a trust administration. An experienced trust administration lawyer can play a key role in getting off on the right foot with beneficiaries, managing expectations, but also protecting the trustee from unfair assumptions and criticism.
Timely Pay Necessary Trust Expenses
A central role of the trustee is to protect assets of the trust and that includes by timely paying necessary expenses of the trust. This could include mortgage payments, vehicle payments, utilities and funeral expenses, among many others.
Record Keeping Is Crucial
All payments made by the trustee on behalf of the trust should have accompanying receipts and invoices. Remember that a trustee is a fiduciary and is responsible for keeping organized records of the trust administration.
Don’t Forget About Taxes
There are different types of taxes that a trustee must be aware of when they are administering a trust. One is the final income tax return of the trustor, usually do the following April the year after death. Another would be estate tax, but Missouri does not have estate tax or an inheritance tax, unlike some states. The federal exemption for an individual is $12.92 million in 2023 ($25.84 million for a couple), i.e. not federal estate tax is due unless a trust estate is worth more than $12.92 million after the expenses of administration. But…while the trust administration is pending, a trust tax return (Form 1041) must be filed if the income in the trust exceeded $600 in a tax year (or whenever a beneficiary of the trust is a resident alien).
Being a trustee is something most people will never do and if they do it will only be one time. Which means that when you become a trustee you will usually have a difficult time figuring out what needs to be done and by when. That’s intimidating, especially when everything is up to you.
LEGACY LAW CENTER CAN HELP…HERE’S HOW:
Legacy Law Center has been repeatedly recognized as one of the best trust administration law practices in Missouri.
We can break down the trust administration process for trustees and take much of the work off their plate. For example, beneficiaries are notified in writing that you have retained our firm and that all communications to you should be through our firm so we can assist you to respond. Further, we let beneficiaries know what to expect so that they can feel at ease that the process is moving, understand all the work that needs to be done and can have all their questions answered.
For more information, call our firm at (636) 486-2619 today to set up a FREE CONSULTATION.