The laws that apply to the administration of trusts and estates are quite complicated. Often, when someone passes on, they name a family member as the executor of their estate or as a trustee to a trust. In some cases, the family member agreed to serve as an executor or trustee without fully appreciating the importance of the role, and the challenges that it can present. At Begley law Group, we routinely represent trustees and executors, helping them through the process of administering a decedent’s estate. With over 80 years of experience assisting clients successfully navigate these complex issues, we can confidently help you with whatever estate or trust administration issues you are dealing with.
Begley Law Group Assists With the Administration of New Jersey Trusts and Estates
The skilled estate planning attorneys at Begley Law Group can help executors, administrators and trustees negotiate their complex and often challenging obligations to reduce the chance of future disagreements.
The Importance of the Estate Executor’s Role
The terms executor, administrator and trustee are often used in similar contexts and can be easily confused. An executor is a person appointed under a will to serve as the personal representative of a deceased person’s estate. Often, a person will name an executor in their will; however, if that is not the case, then the court will appoint an administrator. Executors or administrators oversee the distribution of the decedent’s estate assets, following the decedent’s actions as outlined in their will.
An executor owes a fiduciary duty to the estate and its beneficiaries. These duties may include obtaining a death certificate, initiating the probate process, filing necessary paperwork in probate court, identifying and notifying members of the decedent’s immediate family and others. An executor can face legal liability if they fail to act in the best interest of the estate, for example, by acting in their own best interests or allowing the estate to decay. An executor or administrator gathers the assets of the estate, pays the outstanding bills, pays any state or estate tax including inheritance taxes which may be due and makes distributions in accordance with the terms of the will or if no will, in accordance with the state’s intestacy statute.
What Are a Trustee's Responsibilities?
The trustee is the person charged with managing the trust assets according to the terms of the trust.
When someone creates a trust, they do so for the eventual benefit of the beneficiaries. When a grantor sets up a trust, they name a trustee to manage the trust property. The trustee obtains legal title to all property transferred into the trust by the grantor. A trustee’s power stems from the language of the trust, and may include powers not explicitly stated, but necessary to carry out the objective of the trust.
A trustee owes a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the trust.
Before becoming a trustee, a person must accept the position. Once accepted, the trustee cannot step down unless authorized to do so by the trust document or if the trustee obtains the permission of the court or, alternatively, of all of the beneficiaries. While the trustee has legal title to the trust assets, the beneficiaries have a future interest in the trust assets. Similar to an executor of an estate, a trustee owes a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the trust and must distribute the trust property in accordance with the grantor’s instructions and desires.
The three primary duties of a trustee are investment, administration and distribution. If a trustee breaches the fiduciary duty owed to trust beneficiaries, the trustee can be held personally liable. Anyone who accepts the position of trustee should be aware of the significant responsibilities.
Why Choose Begley Law Group
At Begley Law Group, we know that there are many choices when it comes to New Jersey estate planning law firms. Deciding which law firm to work with is a crucial decision, and not one that should be taken lightly.
When you retain Begley Law Group to Help with your trust and estate needs, we will take care to ensure the decedent’s wishes are honored, avoiding an executor’s, administrator’s or trustee’s personal liability to the estate or its beneficiaries. We will also work to distribute assets to all beneficiaries as quickly as possible. To accomplish these goals, we have a full-time staff dedicated to estate administration, ensuring fast, efficient and accurate service to each of our clients.
We offer the following to help our clients feel comfortable that they are making the right choice:
- A consultation ranging between 90 to 120 minutes with an experienced trusts and estates attorney;
- A thorough explanation of the entire estate administration process, including the probate process;
- A clear outline of all procedural requirements and deadlines;
- Identification of potential areas of conflict between family members and beneficiaries; and
- A determination of which tax returns will need to be filed.
Consult With a Dedicated New Jersey Trust and Estates Lawyer Today for Immediate Assistance
If you are serving as an executor or trustee, and have questions or concerns about your role, the knowledgeable attorneys at Begley Law Group are here to help. At Begley Law Group, we skillfully represent beneficiaries, executors, administrators and trustees in all types of estate and trust disputes. With over 80 years of collective experience, our team of New Jersey trust and estate lawyers have unrivaled knowledge. We skillfully handle complex issues to make the process as simple as possible for you and your family. To learn more, and to set up a time for your consultation, call 856-235-8501 or toll-free at 800-533-7227. You can also reach out to us through our online form.