Postmortem Administration

Postmortem Administration

After the death of a loved one, close family members face a number of complicated decisions relating to the funeral and other final expenses. It is common for an estate to end up in probate so that debts can be settled and assets dispersed to beneficiaries as required by law. If the deceased person created a trust before his or her death, it is often possible to avoid probate.   The trustee has the responsibility to precisely follow all instructions set forth in the trust, while also complying with state law.

A trustee must be careful to fulfill his fiduciary duty, which includes such tasks as making sure all creditors have been paid, filing all necessary tax documents, managing assets and liquidating them when required, and providing accounting to the beneficiaries. In many cases there are additional requirements which must be fulfilled in order to wind up the deceased person’s affairs. The entire process for fulfilling all of these requirements may take place over several months, or even a year or more.

There are many legal requirements that must be met while administering a trust. California state law sets forth strict time limits for the filing of various forms and documents. Both state and federal taxes must be filed in the correct manner, within the correct time periods, and all creditors must be satisfied, to the extent possible with remaining estate assets only, in accordance with the law. In addition, the distribution of assets as laid forth in the trust can often be complicated and problematic for the trustee. If all stipulations in the trust are not followed exactly, beneficiaries may raise legal objections and the trustee could be liable for any mistakes made while administering the trust.

Since the process of postmortem administration can be a difficult one, and even result in legal difficulties if mistakes are made, it is highly advisable to consult with an attorney who is familiar with these procedures. The attorneys at Bethel Law Corporation are highly experienced in  both trust administration and probate procedures, and are able to guide trustees through these often difficult and complex processes. The trustee can be confident that the stipulations in the trust are being followed in accordance with the law, while protecting the trustee from legal complications.

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